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Review: Yesterday (2019)

All my troubles seem so far away.

My grandma, who was born and raised in Liverpool, England, claims that when she was growing up, Ringo Starr used to carry her brother’s rugby cleats home. This humble brag, which I’ve always liked to believe is true, is my Beatles-related segue into talking about a fantastic little movie my dad and I saw last night. It’s no secret that the summer movie season is often crowded with big blockbuster films like Men in Black: International (2019) or Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019), flashy movies based on existing property. By the way, you can check out my  review for Men in Black: International here. So when a quirky little original movie like Yesterday (2019) hits theatres, you can rest assured I take notice. Blockbusters can often feel familiar, like they’ve been copy and pasted from last summer. Yesterday however, is like nothing else you’ve seen.

Screen Shot 2019-07-04 at 10.46.31 PM
Credit: / Universal Pictures

In Yesterday, struggling musician Jack Malik is hit by a bus and wakes up to the surprise that no one in the world remembers The Beatles or their music. Seeing an opportunity, Jack begins passing off their songs as his own. As the world falls in love with this “new” sound, Jack reaches the level of fame and success he believes he’s always wanted. However, he still worries that someone will expose him for the fraud he is.

This is a movie that has been on my radar for a while now mainly because of the talent involved behind the camera. Yesterday is directed by Danny Boyle who helmed Slumdog Millionaire (2008) with a screenplay by Richard Curtis who’s written Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), Love, Actually (2003) and one of my all-time favourite comedy series, The Vicar of Dibley (1994 – 2007). Boyle and Curtis rarely disappoint. So pair their track record with an intriguing premise, the celebrated music of The Beatles and a cast of endearing actors, and you’ve got a movie that hits all the right notes.

Yesterday is a pure musical delight. It’s a movie in which music is hardwired into the story and uses these iconic songs to only bolster what is already a gorgeously-made film. Sidenote, shout-out to the cinematographer because the way Yesterday is shot is simply beautiful. I have no doubt that this is a movie that will be adored by art lovers (both performing and otherwise) for years to come. Yesterday is just as wonderful to look at as it is to listen to. Speaking of, listening to star Himesh Patel put a fresh spin on some of the band’s most famous songs is a pleasure sure to slap a smile on your face. But the impact of the music goes so much deeper than that. Boyle wisely uses the songs to take viewers along for the ride with Jack, allowing the tunes to add emotional weight to the story or serve as a cheeky wink to the audience. Jack is facing a moral dilemma? Of course he’s going to sing “Help!” He arrives in L.A.? You bet your butt he’s going to sing “Here Comes the Sun!”

Screen Shot 2019-07-04 at 10.49.12 PM
Credit: / Universal Pictures

In his first leading role Patel shines as Jack Malik. His skill with a guitar and vocal prowess are a sensation for the ears, but he also proves himself to be a capable leading man. Patel is a charming newcomer who handles Jack’s emotional storyline as well as he does the movie’s sharp and witty comedy. Richard Curtis writes some pretty hysterical punchlines and Patel lands each one with perfect timing and tone. Combine his excellent delivery with his impressive voice and you have a real contender for Hollywood’s next big thing. I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for any movies starring Patel in the future.

Someone else I keep my eye on is Lily James ever since she made a big splash in the true winner for last year’s Best Picture, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018). Btw, I will defend the Mamma Mia! movies until my last dying breathe. In Yesterday James is utterly adorable, exactly the type of lead you want in a a movie as sweet and optimistic as this. Her chemistry with Patel is heavenly to watch and together the pair craft a couple that you cant help but root for.

As lovely and talented as Patel and James are as leads, does it surprise anyone that supporting actress Kate McKinnon totally steals the movie from them? Of course not. At this point if you’re hiring McKinnon to be in your movie, just know that she’s going to pull focus from the leads. She’s just that good! Doing the absolute most while doing so little, McKinnon proves that even in a more restrained role, the only per cent she knows how to give is 100. It certainly makes up for Ed Sheeran’s mediocre acting. Sheeran is perfectly fine (he is playing himself after all) and there are certainly worse instances of singers trying to act, but I don’t think he’ll be winning any acting Oscars anytime soon. Still, his presence only adds to the enjoyment of Yesterday, proving what an all-around entertaining movie it is.

Yesterday is an endearing movie that is so intimate, it possesses all the charm and warmth of a beloved sitcom. Something a little quirky and dare I say, adorkable, like The Office (2005 – 2013) or Gilmore Girls (2000 – 2007, 2016). Its message of just how inspiring, moving and most importantly, unifying, good music can be is sure to touch your heart and leave you smiling from start to finish. What also makes this movie a ton of fun, besides the soundtrack of Beatles hits that will have you jamming out in the car on the ride home, is its sense of intrigue. Being a wholly original idea, you’re left without any inkling of where the story will go or how it will end, and it’s so refreshing to watch a movie as unpredictable as this one. Plus you guys, it’s just so damn well-written and hilarious. I genuinely belly-laughed multiple times. At the end of this movie you’re going to either want to write your own screenplay or your own song and I strongly encourage you to try your hand at both.

Screen Shot 2019-07-04 at 10.51.13 PM
Credit: / Universal Pictures

As The Beatles themselves said, “I believe in Yesterday.” A must-see not only for fans of the band but all music-lovers, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a summer movie more brilliantly charming than this one. In every way, Yesterday is beautiful, interesting and fun. And isn’t that all we want out of movies?

Are you a fan of The Beatles? Will you go see Yesterday?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!

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