Is there anybody gonna listen to my story?
Yes, a resounding yes. I knew from the first time I watched the trailer that Yesterday was going to be part of my watchlist for the year. However, its been a busy few weeks for me so I thank my good friend Iris Diorella for reminding me that it was already screening or else, I would have missed it. As a fan of Beatles songs, I was right in expecting a good time with this film. The sweet and enduring message was a bonus. All you need is love, after all.
Synopsis: Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) is a struggling musician from Suffolk who tries his best to make his mark in the music scene. He dreams of moving crowds with his songs and performs relentlessly for every gig that his childhood friend/ manager Ellie (Lily James) books for him. Success eludes him after 10 years of busking and he grows more frustrated about his plight. Just as he was about to give up on his musical aspirations, a 12-second blackout envelops the entire world and when he wakes up, Jack finds himself as the only person who remembers The Beatles and their songs. Feeling responsible for sharing their music with the world, he claims the songs as his own and embarks on a journey to superstardom with the unlikely help of Ed Sheeran, who plays himself in the film.
Yesterday was an amazing tribute to the songs of The Beatles, and it had such a different flavor from 2007’s Across the Universe, a grittier musical that also used a repertoire of Beatles songs to tell its story.
What I liked most about Yesterday was that the story was shaped around the theory that the band never existed. And without the Beatles, what would we have done without their classic hits? It was a far out theory but Danny Boyle’s movie made it work. Like his masterpiece Slumdog Millionaire, there is an underlying message of positivity in the film as well as a rootable central character that audiences just want to succeed. Plus, fans also get to take a journey through Liverpool, the original Strawberry Fields, Penny Lane and the tomb of Eleanor Rigby, the inspirations behind some of the best songs ever written, ever.
I enjoyed Himesh Patel’s renditions of the classic songs Yesterday, Imagine, Born in the USSR, Eleanor Rigby, Help Me, All You Need is Love as well as a catalog of the band’s greatest hits. His voice was clear and refreshing, and similar to the style of John, Paul, John and Ringo. He let the purity of the vocals deliver on the timeless melodies that still hold strong amid the many musical evolutions that have taken place over the decades. This was a very respectful approach to these classic hits and it made the songs stand out even more amid the other genres of music presented in the film.
Apart from the music, I also loved the innocence of the characters and their seeming detachment from the glitz and glamor of the music industry. For Jack and Ellie, it was always about the music, not the money or the stardom that comes with it. I loved Ellie’s absolute faith in Jack, even though for the most part, he was too preoccupied with his own lack of success to realize the gem that was in front of him all along. Himesh Patel and Lily James had such great chemistry and it was obvious from the start that they had feelings for each other.
I also loved their group of friends and family, who joked around a lot with Jack but still turned up for his gigs. Their gang will definitely seem familiar to many audience members because they are like the type of friends that you have in real life — the really close ones who call you on your BS, and the ones who rub your face in your misery — without malice, that is. I especially liked Rocky and Gavin, who I’m glad had their own happy endings.
I loved that at the core of the film was a very simple message. All you need is love. And at the end of the day, no matter how long the journey will take, it all boils down to who you love and what you love. The message was as clear as the morning sky and it was told in such a natural way, in between the beautiful music that the Beatles created. It was true what was said in this film. A world without the Beatles will be a world far worse than it was before.
If I had one slight comment about the ending, I would have wanted to Jack to at least sing his Summer Song to the crowd just so people would also know his own music. It was actually a pretty catchy song with a nice melody and it deserved more credit than it got.
All in all, Yesterday was a simple and heartwarming film that used The Beatles and their music as a backdrop for an equally poignant love story. At the end of the day, you’re set as long as you have that one person who will stick it out with you no matter what. The film’s message was true — even when you take the long road, everything will be alright once you circle back and realize what is truly important. Jack may have been a dunderhead for the most part, but he was an adorable one at that so all is forgiven by the film’s end. Shoutout to Ed Sheeran and Sanjeev Bhaskar who played Jack’s dad. They were hilarious.
Check out the trailer below: