It looks like the musical British invasion has yet to run out of steam. With Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman being huge hits, it’s surprising that we have not seen a biography about one of Britain’s most iconic bands, The Beatles. However, we have instead been given Yesterday, a jukebox musical about the band’s songs and lack of existance from the director of Trainspotting and the writer of Love, Actually. Does Yesterday successfully pay tribute to The Beetles?
Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) is a struggling singer-songwriter who has reached a crossroad in his career, despite the encouragement of his childhood friend/ manager, Ellie (Lily James). After Jack is hit by a bus during a global blackout, everything seems to be normal except for one specific change; no one knows The Beatles, aside from Jack. He takes this opportunity to use their songs as his own and immediately finds himself becoming a rising star. This brings the support of Ed Sheeran (Ed Sheeran) and the attention of music agent Debra (Kate McKinnon). However, Jack learns that living the dream of a rock star means drifting further away from Ellie.
With a premise like that, there are certainly a lot of different ways to approach the realisation of the band’s existence. It definitely seems like Richard Curtis had fun exploring this idea when writing the movie. Yesterday playfully shows how different the world is without the existence with The Beatles, from specific drinks to even current music artists, just showing how much of an impact they have created in popular culture. The film also has some visually stunning moments that help support Curtis’ writing. With director Danny Boyle, the movie treats us with some very kinetic camera movements and editing, making it a very unique looking musical rom-com.
While the story does explore some interesting ideas within that premise, however, it does not reach the full potential as it sticks with a very safe and familiar romantic comedy structure, even those already made by Richard Curtis. That being said, it almost seems to be wanting to be more of a celebration of The Beatles’ library of music. And if that is what people are wanting, then they will not be disappointed as newcomer Himesh Patel, who is not only a very likable lead but does a wonderful job covering some of The Beatles’ iconic songs. Be prepared to hum along to everything from ‘Hey Jude’ to ‘Here Comes the Sun.’
Overall, Yesterday is a charming love letter to The Beatles that, while predictable, does pay tribute to the famous songs and band, as well as a unique visual style. I can definitely recommend the movie to fans of The Beatles, especially for all the little Easter eggs towards their history and legacy.