a supernatural event that causes the entire world to forget the music of The
Beatles. The movie focuses on a struggling musician named Jack Malik (Himesh Patel)
who uses this as an opportunity to advance his own career. A premise
like this exposes itself to a variety conflict, charm, and some great songs the
audience can sing-along to. And while Yesterday
delivers on the music and fluffy charm, it ultimately falls flat due to a lack
(Minor spoilers below)
out on the right foot with endearing us to Jack’s struggle to make an impact
with his music. When he begins claiming the songs of The Beatles as his own,
there is excitement in watching him progress from pub gigs to sharing a stage
with Ed Sheeran. The audience also connects with Jack discovering new elements
of the world he lives in. By the end of the first act, he seems well situated
in this world and becomes an international sensation.
While it’s exciting to see Jack perform these great songs on
a large stage, part of it feels unearned. Once Jack ceases to be a struggling
musician, there doesn’t seem to be much else going on in the story. Jack faces minimal conflict once he is in this new world. There may be times to
where he forgets lyrics to a song or has disagreements with a high profile
manager, but none of those play any major impact to the story. Even internally, Jack never doubts himself or
asks if it’s right he should be claiming these songs as his own.
The only true source of conflict comes from the romantic subplot
between Jack and Ellie Appleton (Lily James), a close friend and his music manager at
the beginning of the film. The chemistry between these two characters are very
solid, making it feel like they have a well developed history together. What’s
disappointing is how the relationship becomes tedious half way through the movie.
The story has them acting in unnatural ways that seem to want to add
unnecessary stakes just to give the third act a proper ending.
What also adds to the tedium is how the plot moves without a
sense of flow or reason. There are several scenes that add nothing to the story and the
romantic subplot is forced in at awkward times. This causes Yesterday to having uneven pacing
that has it feel much longer than it actually is.
These issues don’t necessarily mean Yesterday isn’t entertaining. The concert scenes are spectacular
and the supporting cast really helps the movie come alive. There isn’t a single
moment where the movie feels boring either. There’s nothing wrong with fluffy entertainment, but the movie itself feels like it’s trying to say more, but doesn’t
put in the effort. These leaves Yesterday being a cute but hallow film.
Without any kind of impactful conflict, Yesterday doesn’t offer much outside of its premise. There is certainly
a lot of fun to be had, especially by those who want to ride the wave of nostalgia
the Beatles songs will supply. For that, the best way to enjoy Yesterday is to rent and watch it at home where you can loudly
sing-along with the hits and vaguely pay attention to what happens in the