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YESTERDAY gets 6/10 In my life


Directed by Danny Boyle

Starring Himesh Patel, Lily James, Kate McKinnon, Ed Sheeran

6/10

If you’re a lover of The Beatles, you may just find some joy in this lovingly intended endorsement. And if you’re not, well, there may not be much else to love in Yesterday. Through a simple, yet creative concept, this film rejoices in the music of this most famous pop band and how their music resonates even if it were released today – though Yesterday can’t quite make its own central romance as appealing and loving as the romance in The Beatles’ own songs.

Scribed by notable rom-com screenwriter Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Love Actually), the film’s concept is nifty: struggling musician Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) is hit by a bus just as the world goes into a very brief electronics shutdown, for some reason. When he wakes up, he’s in a world without The Beatles, even though he still clearly remembers them, for some reason. But this nifty concept is fun and easy to go with and to see Jack become as big as The Beatles by using their songs.

Yesterday doesn’t try overcomplicating its premise too much and uses it for some quality laughs, though they admittedly will mean more for the fans (even casual) of the band. It’s also used for some very touching moments, showing what kind of an alternative timeline we’d be in without such a band, and it’s director Danny Boyle’s accomplished sense of emotion that makes such scenes so wonderful – though of course, these moments can’t help but have such weight because they’re obviously supported by the power of the music and lyrics of The Beatles songs they use.

But where the director excels, the screenwriter fumbles. The romance given to the main man and his manager/potential lover Ellie (Lily James) continuously wobbles, from the film’s beginning till its very predictable and crowd-pleasing no-one-goes-home-alone ‘satisfying’ ending. Jack and Ellie bicker over the same argument in every scene they share, their romance reduced to “do you love me? I love you. No, wait, I don’t”, stretching out their tepid relationship amidst the far more intriguing story that overpowers it.

Jack’s reluctance to not only this love here, but also his fame (that, since he hardly deserves it, he doesn’t care much for) makes him too bland of a protagonist for such a film, and this can even make him detestable. There’s such a disconnection between this band’s clear conveying of love and the film’s own struggling romance that’s hard to find endearing. The remaining two Beatles had no creative control of this film, but Ringo Starr gave it his blessing, calling it “lovely” – it certainly is, though only when it’s actually focused on the fab four (or absence of).

DAVID MORGAN-BROWN

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