Yesterday - 2019
Director(s): Danny Boyle
Writer(s): Richard Curtis and Jack Barth
Cinematography by: Christopher Ross
Editor(s): Jon Harris
Cast: Himesh Patel, Lily James, Joel Fry, Ed Sheeran, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Meera Syal and Kate McKinnon
When I saw the trailer for this film, I was interested - for many reasons. For one I enjoy The Beatles' music, am not a fanatic, but I have spent my share of hours listening to their songs. The team-up of two talents I follow, director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting / 127 Hours) and writer Richard Curtis (Pirate Radio/About Time/Notting Hill), was something that excited me (despite the underwhelming trailer). Walking out of the film, I cannot help to feel underwhelmed and wishing I waited for it to hit a streaming service.
The story follows Jack Malik (Patel), a struggling musician at the end of his rope. Jack has tried for over a decade to make it as a musician, but his gigs keep getting sadder and sadder forcing him to quit - despite the love and support he has from his friend and manager, Ellie (James). On the night he makes this decision there is a worldwide blackout that erases The Beatles and their music from history, with Jack being the only one to remember them. Jack uses this knowledge to become the most prominent singer-songwriter in the world, but his meteoric rise to fame comes at a cost - losing Ellie. Jack must then decide on what future he wants.
I should start with what I liked about the film - and that is Patel and James, both their acting and their chemistry. James always manages to be the highlight of any project she participates in as she has this natural lovable quality that draws in the audience and you buy into her love for Patel. And while I had the original songs battling against these covers performed by Patel, one cannot deny he has a great singing voice and rose to the occasion.
A lot is going against this film, mainly the lackluster energy the film carries throughout its runtime that keeps the audience from investing in the events. We go from point A to point B with a sense of a matter of fact instead of going deep into the crazy premise this Beatle-less world. There is one good joke in the film, other things are missing from this world, and they lazily use the same scene structure of him Googling it and reacting that gets boring quickly. The film is also structured like a music biopic - but of a fake artist that is covering songs, and that makes you lose interest in the events quickly. And it seems like Boyle also lost interest as he from time to time shifts the camera sideways for no reason as if he fell asleep behind it (it baffled me every time it happened).
While Patel and James are lovely together - the rest of the cast has zero chemistry, and the comedic timing is none existent. Ed Sheeran is a great singer, but a horrible actor - and people need to stop making Kate McKinnon do her lone character in all her movies, as she has squeezed all the juice out of this "weird" and "wacky" bit. The ending follows the stale rom-com trope of the person that lied the entire time but came clean, and everything works out just fine, despite him/her being a horrible person. It doesn't work as well in this film given the global scale of the lie and the legal ramification with his record label.
Yesterday takes two genres(musical-biopics/rom-com) and takes all the played-out tropes and heavily leans on them, providing nothing new or refreshing to justify the use of them. The comedy is sparse, the energy is non-existent, and the pacing makes the film feel like three hours long. I would not call this a BAD movie, but it is not a good film by any stretch of the imagination.
Yesterday is a Streamer!
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