June 24, 2019

CINEMA | Danny Boyle Remembers The Beatles – 'Yesterday'

"Do you genuinely not know who The Beatles are?"
Himesh Patel Lily James Danny Boyle | Yesterday

British director Danny Boyle dives into contemporary media culture with his fairytale musical fantasy comedy tribute to The Beatles. Written and produced by romantic comedy veteran Richard Curtis, Yesterday plays mostly as a joyous celebration of the Brit rock band's storied song catalogue with some modern twists that more or less live up to the film's high-concept premise.

Newcomer Himesh Patel proves to be a delightfully compelling lead with a balanced singing voice to hold our attention while acknowledging his limitations as a performer as expressed within the film's unnecessarily layered plot. It's an earnest, sincere performance with just enough charisma to carry the film while still grounding his everyman character.

Patel plays aspiring singer Jack whose dream of music stardom quickly fades. Through an unexplained worldwide blackout, The Beatles entire musical existence (among other historical elements) is completely wiped out and no one remembers but Jack. He quickly takes advantage by repurposing the Fab Four's discography for his own purposes.

Himesh Patel Danny Boyle | Yesterday

It's a killer premise that uses various Beatles songs to tell a very fun story. However, midway through, Yesterday suddenly becomes a conventional rom-com in the mold of Curtis' famous works. The stunning Lily James absolutely proves she's a star, if she hadn't already, in a thankless role had it been played by anyone with less talent or screen presence.

James' Ellie is Jack's lifelong best friend, only supporter, and de facto manager. Their sweet relationship is endearing but feels very forced and archetypical of the long-suffering, pining lost love interest character. It's a bit of a stretch that leads us away from the crazy plot before quickly barrelling to a very emotionally pleasing but highly unsatisfying narrative conclusion.

Yesterday mostly holds up on the talent and confidence of its execution. Boyle and Curtis' use of music and contemporary media work in fun, joyous ways. Despite standouts Patel and James, the romance element of the comedy fantasy doesn't quite fully come together. However, it's hard to deny the sheer celebratory nature of the film's premise.

More | YVArcade / AV Club / Indiewire / io9 / Uproxx

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