In terms of artistic output and continuing popularity, no group really comes close to The Beatles. Even though they were only recording artists for ten years, they produced thirteen albums of quality material, among which are some of the greatest albums ever released, so I’m surprised it’s taken this long for a film containing their music to surface in the cinema.
Coming to us from seasoned veterans Richard Curtis (writer) and Danny Boyle (Director) we have Yesterday, a film, which, on the surface may seem like a platform to sell more Beatles records, but also contains a fantastical and further-reaching element.
An interesting and somewhat original premise lies deep within here, surrounded by the weight of a triumphant musical catalogue that is beloved around the world, what could possibly go wrong?
A world-wide power outage causes The Beatles to be completely wiped from peoples memories, all besides Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) a struggling Singer-songwriter who happened to be hit by a bus as the power outage struck. Jack realises that if he can re-create the music he rememberers, that he can be a world wide star, but is it all worth it?
It’s worth pointing out that the premise of The Beatles being wiped from history is a little further reaching in the film than perhaps expected, it isn’t the only thing the world forgets, indeed many things disappear from the face of the earth, but they’re weirdly never focused on.
For the unique original idea, the film soon quickly goes off the rails. It has a fairly generic message at its heart, the old ‘fame is never what you want of it’ chestnut that is a lesson in almost every film of its ilk, for such a fantastical premise, the payoff seems lazy.
As central as The Beatles are to the story, they never truly feel connected to it. Of all the imagery the group left behind, almost none of it is taken advantage of here, only the music, which is a real shame, given the amount of creativity that the band as a whole left behind, without the amnesia angle, the film would just be a bog-standard rags-to-riches story about a musician, and we’ve seen that a million times.
Sure, the film has its charms, the soundtrack is an array of Beatles classics, and the cast are for the most part stellar, if a little hackneyed. Himesh Patel and Lily James make for a lovely on-screen couple, even if the annoying ‘will they, won’t they?’ Dynamic is stretched to breaking point, they share some genuinely nice scenes together, their characters seem much more interesting before the seismic life-changing event, if anything.
I wouldn’t say there is no fun to be had here, but there is something about Yesterday that makes it seem cloyingly desperate. Not only roping in the Beatles back-catalogue for name recognition, but casting the likes of Ed Sheeran in a supporting role, just smacks of a screenwriter desperate to remain relevant to a world that has long since passed him by.
So, that’s Yesterday. A nice idea, with a good cast, brought down by its own attempts to look relevant and cool, that it forgets to have any more original ideas besides the first one. A generic, overdone moral conclusion, coupled with tedious, overplayed awkward romance. Redeemable mainly for its game cast and legendary soundtrack, Yesterday has very little more to offer than blind nostalgia, and predictable narrative beats.