Cast: Himesh Patel, Lily James, Kate Mckinnon, Ed Sheeran
Director: Danny Boyle
Well, here we are again. It’s been a month since Rocketman came out and we’re in desperate need for yet another movie to listen to songs that we’re familiar with. Whether it’s the music of Queen, Elton John, or now The Beatles, the reason these movies get made is because they’re enjoyable for audiences and usually make a ton of money. In the case of Yesterday, that’s exactly what we get as we get a light, fun rom-com to get us through the summer. If you’re looking for an entertaining and benevolent movie to help you relax for 116 minutes, Yesterday will give you everything you ask from it.
The film follows Jack Malik (Patel) a struggling musician who just can’t seem to catch his big break. When all the electricity in the world goes out at once and comes back on, Jack is the only person in the world who remembers who The Beatles are. When he starts to gain popularity by performing these songs to audiences who have never heard them before, he has to decide whether or not his new life of fame is worth potentially giving up his old life and his friendship with Ellie Appleton (James). Let’s address the most obvious details of the movie; it’s incredibly sappy and cheesy. It follows the same formula that almost every rom-com follows. The reason why the formula works this time is because of the environment surrounding these events as well as the chemistry between Patel and James. Most rivaling rom-coms are either incredibly superficial or don’t create an environment where we care about the characters. This isn’t the case with Yesterday as the music helps create a true reason for the events of the movie to play out. On top of this, since the soundtrack is made up of songs that most people know and love, it feels good to hear these songs in a new format and under the circumstances that the films establishes from the beginning. Outside of the music and plot, you can really feel the emotional connection between Jack and Ellie and it helps establish the relationship as something special and one that want to see succeed. For Patel’s film debut, he shows he has the potential to carry a movie and provides a complex series of emotions that the average person would showcase if they were placed in a similar situation. On the other side, James is truly moving in her role giving this movie the support its needs to drive its point home. James beautifully articulates exactly how her character is feeling and really puts the pressure on Jack to decide what is important to him. You really end up empathizing more with James’ character more than Patel’s as she’s more of a victim of circumstance and can’t do anything to change her situation. Sure the movie can get flowery with these moments and promotes a relatively generic message, but it’s still presents itself in a way where most audiences should be able to enjoy what they watched.
Overall, Yesterday only tries to be a pleasant ray of sunshine to guide us through the summer movie season, and it does exactly that while striving to accomplish little outside of that. If Patel can continue to develop himself in other lead roles, he very well could end up being a household name in the next few years. Audiences will love James in this role as her personality comes through the screen and shows us almost every great quality that we want to see in a female love interest. When all of this is sandwiched between dozens of classic Beatles songs, Yesterday takes a cliched formula and turns it into something palatable regardless of your traditional movie tastes.
Overall Score: 6.5/10