Review: Yesterday (2019)

Directed by: Danny Boyle | 116 minutes | comedy, fantasy, romance | Actors: Himesh Patel, Lily James, Sophia Di Martino, Ellise Chappell, Meera Syal, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Kate McKinnon, Alexander Arnold, Harry Michell, Vincent Franklin, Joel Fry, Michael Kiwanuka, Ed Sheeran, Karl Theobald, Karma Sood, Jaimie Kollmer , James Corden, Camilla Rutherford, Sarah Lancashire, Justin Edwards

The idea alone deserves praise: in “Yesterday” Jack (Himesh Patel) discovers that in a worldwide power outage, the whole world except him has forgotten The Beatles. It’s just like they never existed. A search in Google only returns pictures of beetles, there are no albums or pictures to be found, the songs only exist in his head. Jack is a born musician who, however, does not get any recognition for his own work, no matter how much effort his manager – and good childhood friend – Ellie (Lily James) puts in it.

Initially it does not get through to Jack. But when a number of friends are genuinely surprised, moved and delighted when he plays “Yesterday” on the guitar they gave him as a gift after his discharge from the hospital, he understands he is not being fooled. Something really strange is going on.

Jack then goes to work putting all the Beatles songs on paper. Friend and foe are amazed at his writing skills. Ellie arranges to record a demo with a local music producer. Slowly the ball starts rolling. But it’s only when Ed Sheeran (who plays himself) gets involved that things go fast. In no time Jack is world famous and everyone wants to know more about this talented musician.

“Yesterday” is a wonderfully imaginative romantic comedy written by Richard Curtis (“Love Actually”, “Notting Hill”, “About Time”) and directed by Danny Boyle. Danny Boyle once again shows his versatility as a director. After a thriller (‘Shallow Grave’), drug comedy (‘Trainspotting’), horror (’28 Days Later ‘), family film (‘ Millions ‘), science fiction (‘ Sunshine ‘), drama with a pinch of Bollywood (‘ Slumdog Millionaire ‘) and biography (‘ Steve Jobs’), there is little chance that there is anything this man cannot do. Boyle seems to reinvent himself with every film. With “Yesterday” this duo shows in an inventive way just how brilliant those Beatles songs really are. Because you may not think about it every day, but this is evident from this perspective. Imagine that there really is an artist standing up who writes these songs one after the other and also performs them in an excellent way, without ever having heard of The Beatles or their songs, then it is hard to believe.

“Yesterday” has two fun protagonists, the scenes with Himesh Patel and Lily James sparkle. The scenario has – with a few mistakes – speed and is well put together. Fortunately, that blunder feels like a deleted scene that doesn’t have much influence on the rest of the story. Of course, it does not go into too much detail how it is possible that a power outage caused this, but you should not think too much about that. There are also funny finds in it, but it would be a shame to mention them here. Special mention to Sanjeev Bhaskar and Meera Syal, who have fantastic comedic timing as Jack’s parents. Like stupid necks, they waltz over Jack’s sudden talent as if he had just learned to tie his shoelaces. A world without The Beatles? No! But we certainly don’t want to miss Danny Boyle and Richard Curtis.

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