What would you do if you woke up one day and found that you were the only one who could remember some pretty big things, including one of the most famous bands in history?
This is exactly the issue facing Jack (Himesh Patel), a struggling musician, in Yesterday. After a freak accident, Jack discovers that he is the only person on earth who remembers the music of The Beatles. Seeing this as his chance to finally make it big, he takes their songs and claims them as his own, becoming known as the greatest songwriter in the world. But through it all, he is conflicted. He knows he is lying, cheating his way to fame and that fame is calling him away from his best friend Ellie (Lily James)
The storyline may appear odd and non-sensical at first, but somehow that is the exact reason as to why it works so well. It allows for some very clever comedy whilst remaining heartfelt and in some way believable. This may partly come down to the wonderful performance given by Himesh Patel in the leading role of Jack Malik. Doing all of his own instrument playing and singing for the role, it is Jack who holds this piece together in such a likable manner. This is a character who can feel for as he is left choosing between fame and love, truth and lies. He is also brilliantly comic in his attempts to remember the lyrics to some of the Beatles more complex and strange songs such as Eleonor Rigby and Penny Lane.
Lily James also impresses in the role of Ellie, Jack’s best friend and manager, one of the only people who believes in his music before he hits the big time. She’s a sweet character who really only wants the best for Jack whilst trying to keep her own emotions in check. The chemistry between Patel and James is really rather charming and makes their scenes together both touching and believable. Joel Grey injects further comedy in the role of Rocky, Jack’s troublesome and hyperactive roadie.
A number of big names appear throughout this movie, including Meera Syal and Sanjeet Bhaskar as Jack’s parents, Kate McKinnon as Jack’s Hollywood manager and Sarah Lancashire as a big fan of Jack’s music. Real life music world favourite Ed Sheeran stars as himself, raking up an impressive amount of screen time as he both helps Jack and competes with him for the title of best songwriter.
You cannot talk about this film without talking about the music and it’s impossible to deny that The Beatles wrote some incredible music. Whilst we may not get to hear many of the songs in full, we are treated to a number of medleys and snippets that simply showcase the talent of that great band and tease the audience into wanting to hear more. From When I’m Sixty Four, to She Loves Me, to Hey Jude and Let It Be, there is bound to be a song in here that you know, a song that you will be humming for the rest of the day. Patel impresses throughout with his vocals in this film.
This film can be described as a whirlwind. It’s fast paced and jumps locations quickly, illustrating the pace in which Jack goes from a no-one to a big star. He is taken to perform in many countries, jet’s from home to America with a stop off in Liverpool and the audience is taken on this journey along with him, fully sensing the urgency and speed along with Jack.
To conclude, Yesterday is a thoroughly enjoyable easy watching film that will make you laugh throughout whilst making you feel for it’s believable and all together likable characters. You don’t need to be a massive fan of the Beatles to be able to enjoy this movie, you don’t need to know every song. It is the new and interesting story that is the main selling point of Yesterday, along with it’s talented and lovable cast.