Combine the crazy premise of a world without The Beatles with a charming, by-the-numbers love story and you’ve got one of the weirdest romantic comedies in years with “Yesterday”.
Part tribute to Fab Four and part rom-com, “Yesterday” is a delightful little film about the power and importance of music and love. The best part of “Yesterday” is the weird and quirky premise. I wish the movie had explored its world without The Beatles a bit more, but what we do get is a lot of fun.
Let’s see if I can make this make sense:
After a mysterious worldwide blackout, Jack Malik wakes up in a world where The Beatles never existed. They never got together, they never made music, and he’s the only one who still remembers them. As a struggling musician himself, Jack can play a lot of their hit songs, so he starts passing them off as his own.
Soon enough, Jack is the most famous singer/songwriter in the world. All he has to do to embrace fame and fortune is continue to lie to the entire world, as well as give up on the woman he loves.
Despite the weird premise, “Yesterday” is mostly a love story between Jack and his best friend/manager, Ellie. They’ve both quietly loved each other since they were teenagers, but never had the courage to admit it. Now that Jack is finally going to move out of their small town and live the life of a rockstar, they can no longer hide their feelings.
Actor Lily James is phenomenal as the would-be girlfriend Ellie. She’s heartfelt and sincere, with a girl-next-door beauty that hopefully leads to a big career in Hollywood. Relative newcomer Himesh Patel is no slouch as Jack. The movie tries to paint him as a bit of a schlub, but he’s a stunner in his own right. He’s got plenty of average guy charm and does quite well belting out Beatles hits.
Which is the only way you’re going to hear those hits: none of the music comes from old recordings. It’s all Patel singing the classics. He does fine. These songs transcend the vocal talents of this would-be Beatle, though the movie never delves too deep into the actual cultural impact of the music. The movie assumes you already love these songs.
“Yesterday” is not perfect. There are some plotholes at the heart of the love story that bugged me. And I wish the movie had done more with its weird premise instead of focusing so much on Jack and Ellie. If you’re the sort of person who needs concrete answers for movie science-fiction, you won’t find any in “Yesterday”.
But what you will find is a nice little love story couched in one of the weirdest movie ideas to come along in years. Goo goo g’joob indeed.