A World Without The Beatles

Yesterday

Director: Danny Boyle

Cast: Himesh Patel, Lily James, Joel Fry, Ellise Chappell, Ed Sheeran, Meera Syal, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Kate McKinnon, James Corden 

Thanks to a preview screening organized by United International Pictures at Suncoast Cinecentre, Durban, I was fortunate enough to see Oscar winning director Danny Boyle’s latest film Yesterday with a screenplay by Love Actually writer Richard Curtis.

Imagine a world without The Beatles Songs? Or a world without Coca-Cola and Cigarettes? Or Even Harry Potter?

This is the premise of screenwriter Richard Curtis’s latest romantic musical comedy Yesterday directed by Oscar winning director of Slumdog Millionaire Danny Boyle and starring Himesh Patel as Jack Malik a struggling musician and Lily James (The Darkest Hour, Cinderella) as his long suffering manager Ellie Appleton set mainly in Suffolk, England.

After an inexplicable worldwide blackout, Jack gets hit by a bus and wakes up missing two teeth and in a sort of alternative reality whereby he soon realizes that this world does not know any of The Beatles songs including Yesterday, Eleanor Rigby, Hey Jude, All You Need is Love and Back in the U.S.S. R.

As Jack played with a sort of goofy naivety by East Enders star Himesh Patel starts initially playing a Beatles song to his parents Sheila and Jed played by Meera Syal and Sanjeev Bhaskar (London Boulevard, The Kumars at No. 42), he is astonished that they have never heard of the most influential and greatest pop band in the world, The Beatles. Then Jack has to remind himself that he is living in an alternative universe which distracts him from the real love of his life Ellie who has constantly supported him throughout his struggling music career. 

Lily James is brilliant as Suffolk maths teacher Ellie and she lifts the film from being a completely contrived musical fantasy into a semi-believable cinematic offering which allows director Danny Boyle to use all his artistic embellishments to make Yesterday more invigorating than what it really is.

Yesterday is a 21st century slightly contrived musical tribute to The Beatles set in the Instagram age of political correctness and diversity where even the likes of singer Ed Sheeran cannot lift the humour in this film with the exception of one funny scene when Sheeran visits Jack late at night at his family home and encounters his irritating yet lovable dad Jed, wonderfully played with comic timing by Sanjeev Bhaskar.

Ultimately, Yesterday is about a lingering love affair between Ellie and Jack as he is seduced by the fame and fortune associated with lucrative streaming contracts in California in the form of a vampish American music manager Debra Hammer played by Kate McKinnon.

Despite the musical tribute to the Beatles and the quirky plot, Yesterday didn’t quite resolve itself as a satisfying film even with some comic moments. Yesterday gets a film rating of 7 out of 10. Recommended viewing for those that enjoy a light romantic musical comedy.

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