Curtis and director Danny Boyle know the premise is inherently silly: basically there’s some worldwide freak accident and struggling musician Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) is knocked down by a bus. Not only does he magically survive, The Beatles (amongst other random things) have been erased from history- leading Jack to pass off their hits as his own.
The film never really shows us why The Beatles are so great: random everyday things and some random bands are missing from this alternative reality but there’s no argument here that The Beatles had any influence on music at all. We’re simply told by all the characters that the songs are AMAZING and so original, barely letting the songs speak for themselves. If anything, it weakens The Beatles’ reputation in that a nice guy with a pleasant-enough voice can perform their songs and become world-famous.
Because it’s a Richard Curtis film, we must have a romance- a subplot designed to distract from the main ‘plot’ (there’s a reason Goodnight Sweetheart used the premise as a throwaway joke rather than a significant plot point). Curtis still cannot write female characters; Ellie (Lily James) is a drippy teacher who exists purely to adore Jack. I can believe that Jack might be cautious about asking Ellie out but cannot believe that Ellie would hang around for more than ten years waiting around for Jack to ask her out, rather than actually asking him out. She has no agency whatsoever.
Be warned that there is plenty of Ed Sheeran in this film. Whilst it’s nice to see that he’s game for a laugh, he’s ubiquitous enough already. Is this meant to be some nightmare world where The Beatles don’t exist yet Ed Sheeran’s music does? That Ed Sheeran’s music isn’t at all inspired by The Beatles because in this universe they don’t exist? Other than Sheeran being very famous, there’s no obvious point to him being there- other than the fogeyish notion that modern youngsters have poor musical taste.
The film’s plus points are Himesh Patel as Jack Malik, the guy who passes off The Beatles’ songs as his own. He is endearingly ordinary rather than being a parody of Hugh Grant’s bumbling Brit, and his character is the only one that makes any sense at all. Meera Syal and Sanjeev Bhaskar are very funny as Jack’s parents and whilst the jokes are obvious, I did laugh.
If you love The Beatles, Richard Curtis and Ed Sheeran, Yesterday will tick all of your boxes- even if it won’t convert you towards any of them.
ck here to edit.