The trailer for “Yesterday” first caught my ear – and then it caught my attention.
Incorporating tunes from the Beatles into pretty much anything deserves an automatic high five. But I was super intrigued, because the premise of this flick sounded like one of the freshest ideas to come along in decades.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one (and you won’t, because you haven’t): A talented but unknown musician struggles to make a name for himself when a freak incident symbolically aligns the stars and presents Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) with a career-making opportunity.
After waking up in a hospital bed, Jack learns from his manager friend Ellie (Lily James) that “the electricity flicked off for 12 seconds” worldwide the night before. This was just enough time for Jack to get hit by a bus – and to alter the course of music history.
Gifted with a new guitar by his saucy but loyal friends, Jack is encouraged by them to “play something.” And since “a great guitar requires a great song,” Jack proceeds to perform a snippet of “Yesterday.”
A delicate camera spin captures the awakened reactions from Jack’s friends while creating a soothing vibe that’s enhanced by Jack’s vocals and harmonious strumming.
He has just played them “one of the greatest songs ever written.” Only problem is, no one’s ever heard it before.
The Beatles? Shrug.
Mention of the band’s name elicits only confusion – and a valid question from Jack’s friend Rocky (Joel Fry): “Like, insect beetles or the car Beetles?”
Despite his research, Jack finds nothing to prove this English rock band from Liverpool ever existed. But he remembers the band, and he knows the songs. So, he’s got an idea…
“Yesterday” is so much fun. The absurdity of the plot line mixed with the camera’s funky angles and quick edits gives the movie an enjoyable and upbeat feel that will keep you smiling from start to finish.
And if for some reason that doesn’t do the trick, the whip-smart banter between Jack and his friends will keep you engaged with its snap and snark.
Patel is outstanding. OUTSTANDING! His dumbfounded responses to the aftermath of the blackout are surpassed only by his vocal talents. Don’t worry for a second that this guy doesn’t do justice to legendary songs such as “Hey Jude,” “Let It Be” and “In My Life.” I was so impressed to the deepest depths by every aspect of what Patel delivered.
Also, a shout out and bonus points to whomever slipped The Fratellis shirt into the wardrobe selection.
Lily James is a delight, and her eleventh-hour statement to Jack will hit you right in the feels. Joel Fry plays Rocky with a charm so ridiculous that he’ll win you over with his first blank stare.
Big names have small parts in “Yesterday” as well. Ed Sheeran plays himself, and he’s actually really funny.
James Corden also makes an appearance, which made me wonder if this movie was in any way inspired by the Late Late Show host’s incredibly moving Carpool Karaoke with Sir Paul McCartney. I could find nothing online to confirm this, but it’s nevertheless worth a mention. That installment is still one of the single best pieces of entertainment that has ever been produced.
“Yesterday” is highly entertaining as well. The performances are amazing. The laughs are genuine. The songs are classic, profound, timeless.
And the idea certainly is new, but let’s be glad we don’t have to imagine a world without the Beatles.