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Yesterday (2019) Review

What if the world forgot one of the most influential bands that ever graced Earth?

“I didn’t write it. Paul McCartney wrote it, The Beatles wrote it.”

Release Date: June 28th, 2019

Length: 1H 56M

Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Music, Musical, Romance.

MPAA: PG

Everybody knows who the Beatles are. You’ve heard their songs, you’ve heard their names. You probably know some of their history, without even thinking that you do. So to raise the question, what would happen if The Beatles never existed was an interesting premise for a movie for me. I was instantly grabbed by the trailer for Yesterday (2019) because The Beatles are one of the most influential bands to ever grace the Earth, and their influence is still being felt today.

Yesterday (2019) is a Comedy, Fantasy, Music, Musical and Romance movie about a struggling musician that realizes he is the only person on Earth who can remember The Beatles after waking up in an alternative timeline where they never existed.

Yesterday is directed by Danny Boyle. Danny Boyle’s filmography consists of Trainspotting (1996), 28 Days Later… (2002), Sunshine (2007), Slumdog Millionaire (2008), 127 Hours (2010), and Steve Jobs (2015). If theres is one thing that is absolutely certain about Danny Boyle’s filmography is that he has never made the same movie twice. He has dabbled in multiple genres of films, and although I haven’t seen every one of his films…yet… I have enjoyed each one for its uniqueness and Boyle’s courage to not just make the same film over and over. Yesterday (2019) I felt was no different. He did a great job directing this film, it was a very unique premise, that I feel an lesser experienced filmmaker would have fumbled.

Yesterday was written by Jack Barth and Richard Curtis. I am not familiar with any other thing that Jack Barth has written. Richard Curtis on the other hand, his filmography consists of Mr. Bean {TV Series} (1990-1995), Bean (1997), Notting Hill (1999), Bridget Jone’s Diary (2001), Love Actually (2003), About Time (2013), and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018). I actually have really enjoyed the films that Curtis has written. He has different ideas that are super interesting to me. I especially enjoyed About Time (2013), I highly recommend that film if you haven’t seen it. It is a lovely film. But I thought Yesterday, especially in the uniqueness was a really well written film, with a nice story. I thought the script was funny and well written.

Yesterday stars Himesh Patel as Jack Malik, Lily James as Ellie Appleton, and Joel Fry as Rocky.

Himesh Patel’s filmography consists of nothing I have ever seen before. I thought Patel’s performance in this movie was incredible. Easily the best performance of the film, but he was charming, funny and boy could he ever sing. I was really quite impressed by his acting, and I am surprised I haven’t seen him in anything else, but I hope to see him in more things in the future.

Lily James’ filmography consists of Baby Driver (2017), Darkest Hour (2017), Sorry To Bother You (2018), and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018). Lily James is a wonderful actor, I thought her work in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018) was excellent. It was nice to see her in a little bit of a different role too, she still sang a bit which was lovely, but she was more of a supporting role, but I felt like she really graced the screen when she was on camera.

Joel Fry’s filmography consists of Paddington 2 (2017). Fry was the comic relief in this movie, and I thought he did a great job in this role. I enjoyed how he was able to go from being serious in one minute to be silly and playful the next.

I had no issues with the acting in this movie, minus the abundance of Ed Sheeran. There was a lot of Ed Sheeran in this movie, but thats not necessarily a bad thing. He played himself, so it was easy to overlook him.

My only real issues with Yesterday (2019) was the pacing. I felt it dragged a bit in places, but other than that, I really can’t think of anything else.

The soundtrack was lovely, the story was fun, the characters were interesting and the story to me was super enthralling and I was hooked from the first trailer.

If you’re a fan of The Beatles, I feel like you owe it to yourself to check out this movie. Even if you’re not a big fan of The Beatles, I feel like theres enough originality here to keep you invested.

I give Yesterday (2019) a 4.5/5.

Until Next Time!

-Andrew

One reply on “Yesterday (2019) Review”

Hey there. Another huge Beatles fan, and I could barely stand watching this movie myself.

Giving credit where it is due, I do think that the actors are quite charming, particularly the female lead, but I feel the story is flawed in its entire approach to the Beatles and the concept. I had beef with the characters as well, but it’s been well over a year since I saw it so I can’t remember my specific concerns on that front. I’ll focus on my issues with how they handled the Beatles instead.

First off, it’s really apparent from the start that this premise isn’t really fully fleshed out. When we get thrown into this movie, nothing in the world of music seems to be any different than our what we currently have in our modern world. Considering that they imply a band did not come along to replace the Beatles in their absence, I have to assume that the Beatles never existed and no one did anything close to the groundbreaking progress they made in the 60s. If that was the case, then the whole world of music would be drastically different than the one we find today. Would rock and roll have been revived in 1963 at all? Would it have been delayed for years? What about albums as a whole? The Beatles cemented the concept of an album being a cohesive body of work, how long would it have been until someone else popularized it after them? What about the “Cool Brittania” phase of the 90s? Bands like Oasis (my favorite joke of the movie which does acknowledge the Beatles impact), Blur, Suede, Pavement, Pulp, and even to an extent the Spice Girls, you could argue they may not have existed without being able to harken back to the glorious era where Britain ruled American pop culture in the 60s, which was led by The Beatles. If none of these bands/phases in music happened, what replaced them? It just seems like they couldn’t be bothered to think very far with the concept, and when the world I live in doesn’t make sense to me, it makes it harder to immerse myself in it.

So let’s just accept that the world of music stayed the same (minus the Beatles) and chalk that up to suspense of disbelief for the premise. Fine. Here is another issue I have. This movie takes place in the modern world, and yet in a modern context, the Beatles music would be interpreted very differently.

Simply put, as bad as it might sound, these songs wouldn’t carry the same weight if they came out today versus when they did in the 60s. Sure, Hey Jude (or Hey Dude if you’re Ed Sheeran) being a 7 1/2 minute epic was bold in 1968 when it was only the 2nd radio single to ever do that (thanks MacArthur Park), but in 2019? It’s just not groundbreaking anymore. On a lyrical level, do we really think that a song with lyrics like “She Loves You Yeah Yeah Yeah” or “I Wanna Hold Your Haaaaaaaaand” would become popular when we’re listening to Billie Eilish and Travis Scott?

Everyone acts so amazed when we see Jack outbeat Ed Sheeran in a singing competition by playing The Long and Winding Road, but do we REALLY believe that this performance, by a singer who isn’t really a charismatic performer, (no shots against the actor, the character isn’t meant to be comfortable in the limelight) would be seen as so amazing and revolutionary in a modern context? Not a chance. When we boil it down to technique and style, TLAWR is a stripped down piano ballad the way Jack has played it. Very basic. With that in mind, can we argue definitively why this song is so much better than something like John Legend’s “All of Me”? Legend would be the better singer of the two, so I would argue the latter is much better than the former when performed by someone with Jack’s vocal range and without any sort of studio productions/flourishes.

Which also brings up my last point. I don’t think this movie really understands WHY/HOW the Beatles were great, simply that they were great and we all know that so let’s jam fan service in there as much as possible. The first time I saw this issue was when Jack plays Yesterday. Considering the original is also quite sparse, honestly not a bad choice, but once again, the strings put in by George Martin MAKE this song the beautiful ballad it is! In 2019, particularly the way he plays it in the early scenes, it’s just an acoustic love song that you could find any frat-bro playing at a college campus. Yet everyone looks at Jack like he just crafted the greatest song of all time. Yesterday would at best be formulaic in 2019, at worst lazy. The Beatles were great songwriters, definitely, but the work they did in the STUDIO is what turned their songs into masterpieces. This movie doesn’t show any of that, it usually just implies that the songs are so perfect that the beauty resonates through them regardless of the form, but that is just not the case. A Day in the Life without George Martin would be nothing. The Beatles without George Martin would have been half the band they were.

I’d give it something like a 1.5/5. If Paul was right and in the end the love I take is equal to the love I make, I guess I’m pretty screwed here.

Thanks for the Read. Always a pleasure.

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