Review of 'Yesterday'

yesterday_beatles.jpg Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) is an unsuccessful, though earnest young musician struggling to make a living. His songs do not resonate with anyone and he is going no where fast. One night there is a world-wide blackout and Malik is at the same time hit by a bus. Recovering from the accident Malik quickly realizes that the world has changed around him: There is no Coca-Cola and, to his benefit, the Beatles never existed. Seeking the success that has long denied him he publishes many songs from the Beatles' back catalogue as his own…along comes the fame and glory but at the cost of his long-time manager/friend Ellie (Lily James).

A wonderful, heart warming story with a preposterous premise that somehow works: There is never any attempt at explaining what happened to the world that Malik awakes in but somehow it doesn't matter. All that is important is what will happen to Malik and how will he deal with the sudden onset of fame (and a rather irritating Hollywood agent). The music, of course, is excellent and must have cost the filmmakers plenty in broadcast rights with Malik's renditions really quite good (there are a couple of hilarious differences from the original though).

The Malik character is the perfect straight-man just dealing with the cards he has been given as the world crashes around him and pushes him along. For the most part he is just along for the ride which makes it all the more amusing. With all of that, “Yesterday” is the story of man coming to understand what is really important in life and in this it is quite successful. Towards the end you wonder if Malik will see what we have seen all the time and this seems like a bit of a Hollywood-style theme despite the film being so explicitly English – Set in England, featuring contemporary English life and mannerisms, etc. No surprise then that this is directed by the incredible English director Danny Boyle who brings his talent to the screen with dramatic framing and frenetic cutting in a story that is not afraid to take huge swipes at the modern music industry.

I have to say Himesh Patel is amazing as Malik – utterly convincing and perfectly innocent of what is about to happen to him. He is supported by Lily James as his long-suffering manager who wants nothing but to be with Malik, if only he would realize it. Joel Fry plays Rocky, Malik's drug-addled friend who is willing to go along with anything and adds yet more humour to the situation.

Great fun and great music with a real heart.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2021-09-06

Directed by: Danny Boyle

Studio: Decibel Films

Year: 2019

Length: 116 minutes

Genre: Melodrama

Other reviewed films by Danny Boyle: