Yesterday hooks you with one hell of a premise. What if one person, due to a freak sci-fi-level accident, was the only person on Earth who remembered The Beatles: and he’s a musician! With promises of tons of real licensed Beatles music (which likely cost Universal a pretty penny) and a massive subplot involving the real Ed Sheeran, Yesterday seems like an absolute slam dunk. And at first, it is until it slowly devolves into a romantic comedy that lacks the same love and care it gives the musical source material.
We begin with Jack Malik (Himesh Patel), a failed musician who is trying to make ends meet alongside of his manager Ellie (Lily James): who he also happens to be in love with. Then one fateful night, and a “thunk!” on the head and act-of-God-worldwide-lightning-storm later, he wakes up and everyone has forgotten The Beatles. As in: their songs, the band members, the history, all of it.
The concept alone is enough to bring a smile to my face, and it did, quite often, for the first hour or so. As someone who owns every Beatles album and studies their history in my spare time, even the little Dad jokes of the film landed. I’ll likely never forget the chicanery involved when he plays a hit song for
his family and is incredulous when they don’t accept it as the most brilliant work ever written.