The legendary music biopics are taking over box offices. With Rocketman and Bohemian Rhapsody being as huge of successes that they were in the box office, it was no surprise to audiences when The Beatles film was announced to follow suit.
However, this film is not a biopic, as audiences might’ve imagined. The film takes a whole new plot line, following the journey of a man who wakes up after a car crash only to discover he’s living in a world where The Beatles don’t exist, and he’s the only one who remembers them. The film is hilarious, fresh and a clever story.
The film’s plot is incredibly clever. Set in England, Jack (Himesh Patel) is an aspiring singer-songwriter who gets into a car accident during a worldwide power outage. When he wakes up, he seems to be the only one who knows about The Beatles. This inspires Jack to write down all of the songs The Beatles wrote and pass them off as his own.
However, Jack quickly realizes The Beatles aren’t the only idea that’s missing from people’s memories. Along with The Beatles, Coca-Cola and the Harry Potter franchise doesn’t exist. The idea behind the film is an interesting take on the concept of highlighting musicians in films during recent years.
The crowned gem of the film is Patel. Though he had been a character on the BBC One soap, EastEnders, Yesterday is Patel’s feature film debut. Director Danny Boyle desperately wanted Patel in the film not only because of his lovely voice but because he thought there was something beneficial to the audience about having someone rise to such a high level of stardom that the audience wasn’t familiar with. Patel’s performance is nothing short of brilliant, and it gives an honest and comical insight to the doubts and struggles of a rising artist.
The entire cast, however, proves there are no weak links. Lily James does an adorable and strong job playing the supportive best friend who’s in love with Patel’s character, and Kate McKinnon is her usual comedic self, giving a dry and selfish performance of the manager.
Another great choice for the film is Ed Sheeran as the songwriter Jack is discovered by. The Grammy-winning artist advises Jack and even relinquishes his title of the best singer/songwriter over to him after hearing his songs. Though Coldplay’s Chris Martin was Boyle’s original choice for the songwriting role Sheeran plays, Martin was busy with his family, and Sheeran did a great job all the same. It’s actually almost more funny to watch, especially when Sheeran tries to convince Jack to change the lyrics in “Hey Jude” to “Hey Dude.”
The film can’t seem to find a set theme, but that seems to be on purpose. The camerawork provides multiple different aesthetics and different artistic themes, possibly to mirror Jack’s journey through his own self image and figuring out who he is as a person and who he wants to be. However, some of the animation and themes are a little tacky and lack what they need to fit with the rest of the film.
What’s also interesting about the film’s story is the realistic aspect of Jack’s journey to stardom. Jack is passing off some of the greatest songs of all time from The Beatles; however, he is still regarded as a failed songwriter for part of the film until he is discovered by the right person. It’s proof that even the greatest songs and songwriters are sometimes just discovered by luck, and it doesn’t matter if you have the greatest songs — the right people have to hear them to make them successful.
Yesterday is thought-provoking in many ways, but the two largest are: first, thinking about what it’d be like to live in a world without some of the most popular concepts; and second, letting the audience appreciate all of the artists that have impacted and inspired future artists, movements and generations. Yesterday highlights how some artists are indelible to our lives — and how the world would be a much worse place without them.