With the rise of music biopics this year, like Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman, I was immediately intrigued when I saw the trailer for Yesterday. The film, directed by Danny Boyle, follows a down on his luck musician, Jack Malik (Himesh Patel), who is knocked out after an accident and awakes to find that the legendary, global music sensation, The Beatles, no longer exist. Jack takes this opportunity to pass The Beatles songs off as his own and skyrockets into music fame.
I think the reason why this film caught my eye is because I felt a “with great power, comes great responsibility” vibe and I tend to enjoy films with such moral dilemmas. What would you do if some masterpiece of history just disappeared and you were the only one who remembered?
Yesterday jumps right into this moral dilemma after some short character introduction and Jack soon realises that this is his chance to step into the spotlight. It’s at this point the films locks itself into the three-step ‘be careful what you wish for’ plot.
Step 1: The main character wishes they were someone else.
Step 2: The main character gets their wish and starts pushing friends away.
Step 3: The main character realizes that this isn’t what they wanted and wants everything to return back to how it was before, and thus, the main character learns an important lesson.
While there’s nothing wrong with this tried and tested three-step plan, it makes for a predictable film as the audience knows exactly where the film is going with its plot. At the very least, there was some great music to carry us on this predictable rollercoaster and Patel does an excellent job of covering The Beatles’ greatest tracks.
Patel’s role as Jack was portrayed fantastically despite the plots predictable nature. This is thanks to the smart decision of director, Danny Boyle, who chose to make the film more about “what if you rose to stardom on the back of a lie?” instead of “what would the world be like without The Beatles?”.
Patel was not the only one who portrayed his character well. Others in the film such as Jack’s long time friend and manager, Ellie (Lily James), roadie, Rocky (Joel Fry) and subsequent agent, Debra (Kate McKinnon), all play important roles in Jack’s life and add some personality to the film.
Considering Jack’s Indian heritage, it was interesting to see Jack’s parents be so open and accepting of Jack’s pursuit of stardom. This was, surprisingly, the only aspect of the film that wasn’t quite so predictable, as one would expect the cultural stereotype to be portrayed, wherein Jack’s parents would be dead against his ambition, therefore acting as another bump in the road for Jack.
Overall, despite its predictable nature,Yesterday is touching, appealing and filled with drama and comedy that makes it a nice weekend movie to watch when you need something lighthearted and nostalgic. If anything, it will certainly have you singing away some of The Beatles’ greatest hits along either during or after the film. We certainly did.