Yesterday Review: A Treat for Beatles Fans, but Still Predictable

Yesterday, directed by Oscar-winner Danny Boyle tells the tale of a struggling musician whose life turns 180 degrees after a 12-second worldwide blackout.

Yesterday, directed by Oscar-winner Danny Boyle tells the tale of a struggling musician whose life turns 180 degrees after a 12-second worldwide blackout. On waking from the un-explainable freak event, he notices that no one seems to remember The Beatles. The rest of the film shows us how he deals with this song-writers fantasy of a situation.

Yesterday stars Himesh Patel as singer Jack Malik. I thought he was amazing in the role. His on-screen chemistry with Lilly James was smooth and fun to watch. The screenplay, however, lacked the warmth we normally expect from Richard Curtis (About Time, Love Actually). The pacing of the film was never stunted, with Jack Malik’s rise to fame happening as linearly as possible. The romance, however, was a roller-coaster, and not in a good way. When I watched the film, I almost thought certain scenes were cut, because some of their interactions just made no sense to me. This was only a slight hiccup, however, because the jokes were great. Many of the laughs in Yesterday may require prerequisite knowledge of The Beatles. I was laughing at most of the jokes in the first half, but the friend I went with (who wasn’t a Beatle-head) had no clue why half the theatre was laughing.

All that is OK though, because ‘Yesterday’ is carried by one thing, and that is the soundtrack. We definitely owe it to John, Paul, George and Ringo for creating music that could be the heartbeat of a film even some 50 years after its release. The music is the glue that ties the film together and that is the one department that is completely flawless. (Ironically the only thing the filmmakers didn’t have control of). I was absolutely bouncing in my seat and even my non-Beatle fan of a friend was tapping his feet to some tracks, and even leaned over once or twice to ask me the name of that song.

‘Yesterday’ however, does end up falling into the category of “forgettable” films, mainly because at the end of the day, it’s pretty generic. It suffers from having a horrible closing act, with the film ending almost as abruptly as the Abbey Road track “I Want You”. This may be because Danny Boyle asked Curtis to cut down on almost 20% of the script before signing on. This involved cutting out Ana de Armas’ entire character (she can be seen in the trailers).

(from left) Ellie (Lily James, back to camera) and Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) in “Yesterday,” directed by Danny Boyle.

All in all, ‘Yesterday’ was a bit of a let-down, after having such high expectations from the cast and the people behind the camera. It has such a great concept, but couldn’t build on it. Watch ‘Yesterday’ if you are a Beatles fan, but as a Rom-com, it’s below par. It’s definitely a good time at the theatres and nothing more. If I had to describe the film in one sentence, it would be “How can a film be so original and yet so generic?”

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