Friday, July 5, 2019

A Glass Of Wine At The Movies - Yesterday


Rating: PG-13

Director: Danny Boyle

Language: English

Length:  112 minutes

Cast: Himesh Patel, Lily James, Kate McKinnon

Viewing Method: Advance Screening

Release Date: June 28, 2019

Synopsis: Jack Malik (Himesh Patel, BBC's Eastenders) is a struggling singer-songwriter in a tiny English seaside town whose dreams of fame are rapidly fading, despite the fierce devotion and support of his childhood best friend, Ellie (Lily James, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again). Then, after a freak bus accident during a mysterious global blackout, Jack wakes up to discover that The Beatles have never existed... and he finds himself with a very complicated problem, indeed.


What if The Beatles never existed? That is, sort of, the question Yesterday tries to grapple with. It's, however, really more of a high concept rom-com. There are, obviously, some sci-fi elements in the story but its heart is the love story we see unfold. The sci-fi elements and the romance elements don't always work together. It feels, at times, like two different movies that have been pieced together but the pieces don't quite fit.

Himesh Patel is entirely charming as Jack, a struggling musician who just so happens to remember the Beatles when it appears nobody else can remember them. He is a large part of why this movie worked for me. He makes Jack really endearing and you believe him as someone who would stumble into this kind of success. Lily James is sweet as his best friend/manger, Ellie, who also happens to be in love with him. She isn't give all that much to do. It's your standard love interest role but Lily makes the most of what she is given. The romance between Jack and Ellie is pleasant enough. We get a sense of the history between the two characters, but that's really about it.

Guilt is a strong theme of the movie. The guilt Jack feels from his success having come at the hands of songs he did not write himself. This drives the later part of the movie which feels like such a contrast to its more fun first half. Each interaction Jack has as he becomes increasingly famous is an exercise in guilt. He feels unworthy and that spirals into every other aspect of his life.

One would assume that this is a love letter to the music of The Beatles. I did not feel this as strongly as other people may have. Jack has to piece together the songs because he often  can't quite remember them. He certainly isn't a die hard fan who memorized all of their lyrics. You can tell he appreciated their talent as a musician himself but I never got that they were a big influence on the character. The movie makes the case that the world is better off for having their music in it, but the world shown to us is really not that different from the world we know with The Beatles in it. It uses their music effectively, but I didn't feel the movie made its case.

The movie never really examines the ripple effect of The Beatles not existing would have on the music world. There are plenty of things that they and their music inspired and the removal of that influence would impact the music we have today. It also never attempts to explain what the cause of this world wide memory loss is. The audience can guess at a vague answer, but is would just be assumptions. There is a moment where the movie grapples with one such ripple effect and I anticipate it is going to be polarizing to audiences. It is certainly an interesting 'what if' to ponder but is never really used for anything more than progressing Jack's story arc and perhaps easing his conscience.

Yesterday, to me, was a case of an interesting premise not being executed to its full potential. It will play as a decent rainy day movie that you catch on Netflix and I anticipate many will enjoy it as exactly that kind of movie. It's fine in the way most movies like this are. You'll watch it, enjoy it enough, and just as quickly forget about it. You will, however, certainly remember the music.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love comments. Thank you for stopping by my blog and thank you even more for leaving me a comment.

I have decided to make this an awards free blog. I appreciate the gesture, and love that you thought of my blog, however I simply can't pass them along as required.

You Might Also Like

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...