Serving as the filmmaker’s thirtieth feature, Danny Boyle’s Yesterday follows Jack Malik (Himesh Patel), a struggling musician who has been attempting to make a name for himself with the help of childhood friend and manager Ellie (Lily James), whose belief in his abilities has been unwavering – unlike his own. Upon reluctantly realizing that it’s not the minimal crowds of impassive listeners who are to blame for his troubles, but rather his own original music, Jack decides to give up on his dream. On his way home one night, a global power outage causes an accident and Jack wakes up the next morning in hospital.
In the hours that follow, Jack discovers that the event erased all memory of one of the most famous bands in history: The Beatles. No one remembers who they are, and no one knows their music . . . no one except Jack. Despite his initial hesitation, Jack begins to re-record the band’s many songs, passing them off as his own. This single action launches him to worldwide success when he is recruited by singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran (portraying himself) to accompany him on tour as his opening act. While on the road, Jack is picked up by LA-based manager, Debra (Kate McKinnon) who has him record his first album.
All the fame and money does little to stifle Jack’s growing concern at the fact that he is committing an act of plagiarism at the highest level. And the more recognition Jack receives, the further he feels from his small hometown in England, and the further he drifts from Ellie. With the eyes of the world watching him and the entertainment business’s insatiable appetite for more, Jack soon faces the same question that’s been haunting him since his life changed: will someone uncover the truth? He must ask himself how far he is willing to go for the dream he’s always wanted, and if it’s worth what he’s leaving behind.
Yesterday, though situating itself among a horde of romantic comedies attributable in part to its familiar storyline, is able to distinguish itself from each of them due to its timeless soundtrack and the strength of the actors who propel each scene forward. Himesh Patel is as completely charming, and his genuine demeanor translates effortlessly through the camera. His relationship and chemistry with co-star Lily James is extremely refreshing, and the pair of them do the genre proud – one cannot help but root for them as a couple each time they are together.
But it is the music and the score which serves as the film’s greatest aspect. Whether one was displeased with the casting, locations or cinematography, it is near impossible to deny the splendid sensation of nostalgia that erupts inside the heart when the first few notes of ‘Here Comes the Sun’ or the opening phrases of ‘Hey Jude’ start to sound in the cinema. At the film’s core is an appreciation and tribute to Paul, Ringo, John, and George, four boys from Liverpool who changed the world with their music. Though it is not a traditional biopic, it seems that Yesterday is loosely following in such footsteps, crafting a project around a well-known artist in order to appeal to, not only their fan-base but the general masses as well. Yesterday showcases an entertaining twist on a light-hearted love story; the olive branch that is extended towards others and our passions. Boyle’s film reinforces the unconscious, universal need for art, and it is that very simple, very humane message which acts as the bow that ties the entire present together.
Oh, I believe in yesterday.
by Kacy Hogg
Kacy is an English Lit student living in the Great White North (no not Winterfell unfortunately), Canada. Her favorite films include the Harry Potter series, Cinderella, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Hangover, and Lady Bird. She’s also an avid binge-watcher of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. You can follow her on Twitter here: @KacHogg95