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Yesterday (2019) - Movie Review

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Yesterday (2019) - Movie Review

A good movie always begins with a killer premise. And Yesterday, the new film from director Danny Boyle and screenwriter Richard Curtis has a great one. It takes on the idea of what our world would be like today if The Beatles never existed.

For myself, with what little musical talent I possess, a Beatles-less world would find me wrestling to remember even a single complete chorus of a Beatles song. But for struggling singer-songwriter Jack Malick (relative newcomer, Himesh Patel), it would present an opportunity to pass off the Fab Four’s catalog as his own and rise to stellar heights in the music world.

"there’s nothing here to dislike. You just have to remember to let it into your heart."

But first, let’s back up a bit. Jack’s ruse begins when, one night following a world-wide blackout and a bump on the noggin, he discovers that his injury has caused him to awaken in an alternate universe in which he is the only person who has ever heard of The Beatles. A Google search turns up nothing on the band and none of his friends have ever heard of John, Paul, George, and Ringo, much less their music that changed the world.

It’s not long before Jack realizes the power of the gift he has been given and begins to scrawl down the lyrics of as many Beatles songs as he can remember. As he begins incorporating the songs into the gigs arranged by his manager, childhood friend, and fellow school teacher Ellie (a wonderful Lily James, Baby Driver), his popularity and the attendance at his shows shoot through the roof.

There’s a particularly hilarious bit that has Jack trying to perform “Let it Be” on the piano for his parents (Meera Syal and Sanjeev Bhaskar) in the family’s living room. Ringing cell phones, incessant banter, and beer runs cause constant interruptions forcing him to start over several times as his mother tells everyone to be quiet as Jack is going to perform “Leave it Be.

It’s not long before Jack’s performances begin to draw the attention of musical performer Ed Sheeran (himself) and talent agent/promoter Debra (Kate McKinnon) who soon turn Jack Malick into one of the world’s biggest stars. But the guilt of what he is trying to pull off begins to get the best of him and he’s never able to enjoy his own success.

Written by successful rom-com scribe Richard Curtis (best known for Love Actually and Four Weddings and Funeral), Yesterday is first and foremost a love story. And the film’s romantic parts work the best as we see that Jack has managed to overlook the affections of his manager and best friend Ellie. But via the emotional truth and the undeniable relevance of Beatles songs, Curtis and Boyle take Jack on a journey of sorts that allows the singer to realize the things that are most important in life. And don’t look now, but you and I just might stumble upon that same realization.

Most Americans will be unfamiliar with Patel’s work on the BBC One series EastEnders, but that won’t last for long as his extraordinary acting and singing talents are on display in Yesterday. He sings the songs we’ve become so familiar with while adding a bit of his own flair to the arrangements. Patel’s goofy charm and extreme talents makes him so undeniably likable.Yesterday (2019) - Movie Review

Additionally, many will be glad to see SNL’s Kate McKinnon finally being put to good use in the supporting role of Jack’s self-absorbed, money-grubbing talent agent who represents everything wrong with Hollywood and the music industry. Though she failed to find success in last year’s The Spy Who Dumped Me, make no mistake, in Yesterday, her over-the-top hamminess very nearly steals the show.

The film’s second half fails to capture much of the magic that mesmerized us early on, but an unseen twist pleasantly catches us off guard and sends the story in a totally different direction than we expected.

Yesterday, at times, feels a bit like a brilliant premise just looking for a cheap way to tip our emotions in one direction or another. At others, it is an unabashedly gratuitous romp through the fabulousness of the Beatles catalog. But everyone and everything – from Boyle to Patel to James to McKinnon, and even the music – is so darn perfect, there’s nothing here to dislike. You just have to remember to let it into your heart.

3/5 stars

Yesterday (2019) - Movie Review


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Yesterday (2019) - Movie Review

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for suggestive content and language.
116 mins
: Danny Boyle
Richard Curtis
Himesh Patel, Lily James, Sophia Di Martino
: Comedy | Romance | Musical
Everyone in the World Has Forgotten the Beatles. Everyone Except Jack.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Well, it's not Cold Play. It's not Fix You."
Theatrical Distributor:
Universal Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
June 28, 2019
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available.
Synopsis: A struggling musician realizes he's the only person on Earth who can remember The Beatles after waking up in an alternate timeline where they never existed.

Yesterday (2019) - Movie Review

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