For the record, I am not a Beatles fan. I never have nor will I ever be one. But the new film “Yesterday” made me like their music a little bit more with its uplifting and heartfelt story.
After a series of failed gigs, struggling musician Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) realizes that his dream to make it big is never going to happen. He accepts his fate that working an ordinary job is all that is in his future. While riding his bicycle home from his last show, a power outage in his town causes him to get hit by a bus. The next morning, he wakes up in the hospital with several teeth missing along with several bumps and bruises.
After his discharge from the hospital, Malik is presented with a guitar as a gift and, during a welcome home lunch, he sings the Beatles’ song, “Yesterday.” His friends compliment him on the song and his creativity. He tells them he didn’t write it, that the Beatles did. Their reaction of “who’s the Beatles?” leads Malik to search online for any existence of the band.
Not finding any, Malik decides to use their music to make himself successful but, in the process, he loses a little bit of his own identity. He struggles to get that back in a life that becomes chaotic.
The trailer for “Yesterday” is what drew me to the theater because I thought the premise of the film was unique. Trailers can let you down with how they are slickly edited but that is not the case with this film. The story kept me glued to the screen along with the actors, who gave a genuine performance. They really seemed to have a heart for the characters they were portraying on screen.
Patel’s performance in this movie is one that will leave you talking. His character is fighting a classic battle of man vs. himself as he tries to hold on to his past while the future is coming swiftly.
Several scenes in the film show this inner struggle. One, in particular, is when Malik is speaking to his longtime friend and former manager Ellie Appleton (Lily James) at the train station.
Malik is trying to express his feelings for her but he is constantly interrupted by his new manager on the phone telling him he is going to miss his flight to Los Angeles to meet with music executives. When Appleton tells him his future is not with her but out the door, the emotion conveyed in his face is powerful. I think everyone can relate to that scene because everyone has experienced loss at one point in their lives.
The music of the Beatles is a great component of the storyline. While the music is essential, it is not overpowering to where it overtakes the entire narrative. Many times, the music serves as an excellent way to move the plot forward.
In addition to the music, “Yesterday” has several comedic moments that help to break-up the serious points of the film. One such moment comes when he is trying to play “Let it Be” for the first time to his parents, who are continually interrupting him by answering the door or the phone or going out to the kitchen for a snack.