Danny Boyle is well known for doing creative and interesting films— for example Slum Dog Millionaire, or Trainspotting. Another such film with a clever and interesting premise is Yesterday. And before you ask, this film about Beatles songs was signed off on by Paul, Ringo, and those representing George and John. And no wonder. It is an excellent film featuring some of the Beatles best and most memorable. And before you ask a second question– yes Mr. Patel really sang all those songs in the film. He has a fine voice. The lead actors in this film will not be familiar to most, although Lilie James may be familiar from either Downtown Abbey or Cinderella. Himesh Patel is unlikely to be familiar, but he is the real star of the film— which is all too brief (112 minutes).
The premise of the film is simply— there is some kind of power outage all over the world, an outage during which Jack Malik (i.e. Patel) is hit by a bus when riding home from a gig at a pub. And the whole world…. well almost the whole world has their memory of the Beatles erased (and also the memory of a few other things— cigarettes (hooray), Harry Potter (boo), and Coke !!). The premise is that the world would be a poorer place without the Beatles songs, and since Jack seemingly is the only one that remembers them, he suddenly becomes the purveyor of those classic songs, with his youthful enthusiasm and good voice make him into a nearly overnight sensation. But he gets stuck into what Joni once called ‘the star-maker machinery behind the popular song’. And temptation becomes too much, as Jack leaves the girl who was his agent and his sweetheart… and flies to L.A. to become a star. So this story is one part success story and one part romance, and it’s a tussle to figure out which story line will win out. I’ll give you a clue— ‘all you need is love’ as a famous group once said. And on top of all this, there is an ethical dilemma— as Jack is passing on the Beatles hits as his own compositions, and even Ed Sheeran (who plays a cameo role in the film) is taken in by Jack.
This is a charming little film and in a summer not exactly full of good films, this one is an exception.