The Beatles fogotten then remembered. It will bring you to tears.
Director: Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire)
Screenplay: Richard Curtis (Love Actually)
Cast: Himesh Patel (The Aeronauts), Lily James (Mama Mia! Here We Go Again)
Runtime: 1 h 56 min
By: John DeSando
“We were driving through Colorado, we had the radio on, and eight of the Top 10 songs were Beatles songs...'I Wanna Hold Your Hand,' all those early ones. They were doing things nobody was doing. Their chords were outrageous, just outrageous, and their harmonies made it all valid... I knew they were pointing the direction of where music had to go.”—Bob Dylan
If the works of Shakespeare were suddenly erased from the world’s memory, culture would suffer an unthinkable loss. In Danny Boyle’s witty and entertaining Yesterday, the works of the Beatles have been lost in a freak 12 sec global electrical outage. Except for Jack (Himesh Patel), who remembers the music and proceeds to reintroduce it as his own.
Boyle and writer Richard Curtis, who seem to know a thing or two about music and struggle, have a winner of a conceit in the world discovering arguably the greatest composers of pop music in history. Patel interprets the songs beautifully and simply with a stripped-down guitar that enhances the lyrics and melodies.
We have been graced this year with two outstanding musical biopics, Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman (although the latter is surely more fantasy than bio), and Yesterday is a fitting companion piece to those stellar movies. The Beatles come alive through the songs, interpreted with low-key power by Patel.
Yesterday disappointed with its reliance on the old trope of boyhood friend Ellie (Lily James), then manager, having unrequited love for Jack. You know how that will end, taking considerable surprise away from an otherwise intriguing premise.
Then the matter of the ethics of plagiarizing; not until the end is Jack faced with the moral dilemma when so much effective drama could have been experienced much before then. Anyhow, hearing the simplified Beatles should bring tears to your eyes (It did to mine) with a deep appreciation of transcendent pop music.
Yesterday is about today and forever.
John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com