Imagine there’s no Beatles — it’s NOT easy if you try. In the film Yesterday from director Danny Boyle, viewers get to experience a world without the classic music, until one man reintroduces the classic songs to the world.
Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) is a struggling artist who is playing the smallest venues and trying to make ends meet while keeping his dream alive. But after a gig at a music festival that is less than successful, he tells his manager and longtime friend Ellie (Lily James) that he is done with trying to make it in music, then rides away into the night on his bicycle. Little does he know, the world as he knows it about to change.
Jack is hit by a bus at the same moment a worldwide power outage takes place. When Jack awakens, he has a variety of injuries, but that is only scratching the surface of life as he knows it. He quickly realizes the world has never heard of the Beatles and their amazing music. It leaves Jack conflicted, but he finally decides to start singing the legendary tunes under his name and introducing the world to the catalog of music that has never been heard before.
As the music gets out, Jack becomes a superstar in his own right as the world quickly takes to the songs that dominated the charts years earlier. The music lasts, but will Jack’s rise to fame endure? Or will the truth finally come out? To become a superstar, he will need to leave behind some of those he loves and cares for on the journey to the top.
Such a fascinating premise — an iconic force in the music business eliminated from existence, the legendary John, Paul, George and Ringo never uniting to produce the music of a generation. But the music is not all that is gone. As Jack continues living his new life, he finds other popular staples missing along the way.
Patel is a likable lead for the amazing story that makes up Yesterday, and he needs to be. If audience didn’t actually care about the conflict that existed within Jack, the movie would struggle to go beyond a simple exploration of the musical catalog of the Beatles. Surrounding Patel with colorful and wonderful actors, such as James, Kate McKinnon and even Ed Sheeran, brings to the movie a feel of authenticity for today’s environment, despite some missing ingredients.
I found myself falling for James, despising McKinnon’s rock ‘n’ roll manager and uttering to Sheeran out loud, “Dude?” Those characters, along with the music, make this movie a fun and totally enjoyable ride through an alternate reality. It will make you think a little and smile a lot as you drive down your own Abbey Road. Yesterday feels a lot like today, and even more like an enjoyable time at the movies.
Paul’s Grade: B
Yesterday is available On Demand and on DVD beginning Sept. 24. Check your cable system for availability.