Review by George Kozera for Mr. Will Wong
The Music of The Beatles has always been the Soundtrack to my life. Growing up, it influenced my musical tastes, exposed me to lyrics and feelings that were either romantic or surreal or plain old fashioned rocking, and even my fashion style (yes, I whined until my parents bought me a pair of Beatles boots and I embraced the psychedelic love beads look throughout my formative years!). To say that I was intrigued by the premise of YESTERDAY, the latest movie from Oscar winning Director, Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting), which imagines a world where the Fab Four’s music never existed, made me salivate in anticipation.
Jack Malik (Himesh Patel in his feature film debut) is a struggling Singer-Songwriter in a tiny English seaside town whose dreams of success is quickly fading despite the enthusiasm and support of his best friend since childhood Ellie (Lily James from Cinderella, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again). When the lights go out globally for 12 seconds, Jack is hit by bus on his way home from another disappointing gig, only to wake up in a hospital to find teeth missing and ultimately realizing that no one has ever heard anything by The Beatles. Jack very quickly decides that the music that no one knows could be his golden ticket to musical fame and fortune and claims the songs as his own. He captures the attention of Ed Sheeran (a humbling, humourous performance) and tours with him as this opening act. To great acclaim.
I have always been a fan of Screenwriter, Richard Curtis. He has a deliciously wicked sense of humour – there is a running gag throughout YESTERDAY where we find out there were other things lost during the global glitch that must be seen to be appreciated – and this Movie has an abundance of laugh out loud moments and situations. Curtis is also an unabashed romantic that believes in the power of love which he has shown in movies such as Love, Actually and Notting Hill. There is no escaping the Rom-Com roots of YESTERDAY and we pretty much know in advance how the relationship between Jack and Ellie will turn out.
There is a breezy, entertaining quality to YESTERDAY that is undeniable. The interpretations of the classic songs are delightful and the chemistry between Patel and James is infectious to watch. However, YESTERDAY is far from perfect. Danny Boyle’s trademark crispness is lacking and whereas the visuals are stunning, many scenes go on far too long and the Movie itself could stand to lose 15 minutes to keep the momentum going as strong as it could have. Some of the secondary characters quickly wore out their most welcomed introductions and became derivatives of characters we had seen in other Curtis’ Screenplays. But these are minor moot points and not once did it fatally affect the great vibes YESTERDAY instilled in me.
Universal Pictures Canada release YESTERDAY Friday, June 28, 2019.