Yesterday’s Honourable Songbook

Name: Yesterday
Genre: Musical, Fantasy, Comedy
Year: 2019

This movie gives a uniquely fun way to honour the music by the Beatles. But the structure is a bit of a mess, with predictable storylines and characters.

The world has a global blackout and during this time Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) is hit by a bus in a freak accident. When he wakes up in the hospital he is the only person that remembers the music of the Beatles – or so it seems. Being a unsuccessful song writer and musician, he thought this would be a perfect opportunity to take their music for his own, resulting being thrown quickly into fame and fortune. The decisions Jack has to make weighed heavily on his conscious and finds himself losing track of his humanity. Will Jack realise with enough time to rectify his bad life choices?

‘Yesterday’ is such an honourable display of appreciation to the legendary Beatles, but it completely misses and disregards the cultural impact the band had on a global scale. The movie did show the public reaction to amazing songs, but not the impact they had on the history. The Beatles assisted and inspired cultural movements throughout the 1960s and missing such an important antidote left a black hole within the film, shadowing the Beatles’ impact on today’s cultural landscape.

Jack’s disbelief of everyone forgetting the Beatles is shown perfectly, with his frantic rush of numerous google searches showing only information about a beetle. This is when Jack decides he will pass the Beatles’ music off as his own. Believing the new reality, we find Jack exploring his mind, writing down as many song lyrics and titles as he can remember.

It doesn’t take him long to become a global superstar interacting with modern starts like Ed Sheeran.

But Jack’s guilt of his deception turns to fear as several figures come to light that knows his dark secret. Sounds like a great and interesting turn of events, but Richards Curtis’ script doesn’t follow this storyline through and feels like the movie takes the easy way out. Curtis seems more interested in honouring the music of the Beatles than following through on this potentially dynamic and dramatic storyline.

The theory behind the film is that the Beatles’ songs could have been performed by anyone and would have had the same impact. This is utterly ridiculous, the story behind the lyrics, the songs structural build or most importantly the relationship and chemistry of the band – making the Beatles the legends they are today.

Even though the film worked as a quirky Beatles’ songbook, leaving out those critical ingredients made it feel rushed and missing the true meaning of the Beatles. I think looking at the film as a whole, a more interesting perspective would have been – What if the Beatles happened, but didn’t make a impact? How different would the world be today? As Jacks new reality wasn’t that much different from real life, makes you wonder did the script writers really understand the full impact the Beatles had on the world.

But accepting all that, this is a comedy. The film does have the elements of humour strongly throughout. Making humour of how the industry has developed with suggesting to change album and song names and lyrics, such as “Hey Jude” to “Hey Dude”, gives an amusing way to question – What if the Beatles were realising their music today?

You have to give this movie credit for approaching honouring the Beatles at a new angle. With other high impact music focused movies like “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Rocketman”, this movie made a fantasy hit showing us the amazing reaction to such legendary music. For people that are not a huge fan of their music, you may feel lost and waiting for the ‘hits’ everyone knows, but you will still come away with the sense of enjoyment in the film.

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