After playing sets to less-than-enthusiastic applause in half-empty bars, and a series of sad gigs, Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) has seemingly reached the end of the (long and winding) road of his music career. That is, until after he wakes up after a freak accident and finds that everyone he knows has no idea who the Beatles are.
At first, Jack thinks his friends are playing an elaborate joke on him, but after a number of failed Google searches, he confirms the world's most famous band has, in fact, been wiped from existence, and that he might well be the only person on the planet who remembers their songs.
Jack realises that he’s essentially been handed a one-way ticket to fame, and immediately uses it to his advantage and starts performing the band’s songs, passing them off as his own.
With the help of his childhood friend and manager Ellie (Lily James), and later on, superstar singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, he quickly rises to fame. And as he leaves his hometown for bigger and better opportunities, he begins to realise the costs that come with international stardom.
Jack’s relationship with his friends and parents, and their exchanges together, are pleasantly real and relatable. And it is definitely Jack’s air of ordinariness that makes him so likeable and makes it easier for us to root for him as he lies to the entire world.
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Danny Boyle’s Yesterday features a handful of big names from the comedy industry, including James Corden and Kate McKinnon. The dry and witty humour throughout Richard Curtis’ screenplay is ace, with a similar vibe to that of Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill (also by Curtis). Sheeran was a fun addition to the cast; he even has a few good jokes to crack and was a good sport to let other characters poke fun at him.
The musical comedy follows the standard zero-to-hero formula, but when stood next to all the big blockbuster movies that hit you with relentless plot twists, the film is quite unconventional in that it doesn’t indulge in drama for the sake of it. The film’s premise is delightfully original, and it is very interesting to see how the people of today react to hearing the Beatles beloved tunes for the first time.
The soundtrack, of course, cannot be faulted. And fans of the band should be happy to rediscover classics like Hey Jude and Let It Be along with the characters in the film. A lot of the Beatles’ greatest hits – well, at least the ones Jack was able to remember the lyrics to – are featured, and Patel delivers them earnestly and with heart.
Yesterday is a beautiful tribute to one of the most influential bands in history, and takes us on a fun nostalgia trip. The film is not overly flashy nor unnecessarily complex, which perhaps is what makes it such a pleasure to watch.