Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) is a struggling singer-songwriter in an English seaside town whose dreams of fame are rapidly fading, despite the fierce devotion and support of his childhood best friend, Ellie (Lily James). After a freak bus accident during a mysterious global blackout, Jack wakes up to discover that The Beatles have never existed. Performing songs by the greatest band in history to a world that has never heard them, Jack becomes on overnight sensation with a little help from his agent.
I heard about this movie for a little while, what I knew was that it involved The Beatles and had Lily James. It feels like a strange movie for Boyle to make, yet from the trailers seemed like a simple but fun movie to watch. Having seen it, it’s definitely not one of his better movies, and it doesn’t even have the same energy displayed in the trailer. Yet it is enjoyable for what it is, I had a good time watching it.
Yesterday isn’t really great and has some issues. There isn’t a lot of depth given to the story, though I wasn’t expecting much really. As it turns out, The Beatles aren’t the only thing that disappeared from history. With that said, there is no explanation as to why they disappeared from existence, nor is there any explanation for why the main character is like the only person to remember them. The movie also doesn’t really take advantage of the premise, it’s like you could swap The Beatles with any iconic music group like Queen or The Rolling Stones, and would basically get the same effect, outside of some different references. It’s very clear that the romance is the focus, and in that most of the movie works fine enough, it’s just that it feels very familiar and simple. The movie certainly works a lot better when viewed as a romantic comedy, so definitely go into it expecting that. It’s got a light tone and is perfectly watchable, though at a little under 2 hours feels slightly long.
Most of the cast play their roles very well. Himesh Patel is the lead in this movie, I’ve never seen him in anything else and this appears to be a breakout role for him, he plays the role really well. Lily James shines as always, the two of them share good chemistry, though we don’t really see enough of them together. Ed Sheeran is in the movie as himself for more than just a cameo, he’s actually a noticeable part of the plot. Let’s just say that if you don’t like him then I don’t think you’ll like the amount of screentime that he gets. Kate McKinnon’s character is a very cartoonish agent who’s only interested in money and all that, but McKinnon elevates the role quite a bit and manages to make her work and genuinely entertaining whenever she’s on screen.
Danny Boyle is directing, and you really get the feeling that he’s really limited by the whole romantic comedy genre. It’s about as well directed as it could possibly be and he does his best to add some of his style to the movie. We only get like brief scenes focussing on the music but when it’s there it’s good as expected, it’s The Beatles after all.
This isn’t among Danny Boyle’s best movies, it really doesn’t take advantage of its entertaining premise as much as it could’ve and doesn’t do quite enough to make it stand out among the rest of the genre. However, if you like a light hearted romantic comedy, Yesterday is worth giving a watch. Boyle does the best with what he has, and both Patel and James are likable leads. Just don’t expect much more than that.