Film Review: Yesterday

16:30 July 01, 2019
By: Fritz Esker

Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting) and screenwriter Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill) team up for the pleasantly diverting romantic comedy/fantasy Yesterday.

When the movie starts, Jack (Himesh Patel) is a struggling musician. The only thing he has going for him is his long-suffering friend/manager (Lily James), who's obviously in love with him. One night, a power outage occurs around the world at the same time Jack is struck by a bus. When he awakens, he still remembers the Beatles but all other traces of their music have been wiped from existence (amusingly, Oasis has suffered the same fate). So, Jack gets newfound fame by passing off the Beatles' music as his own after struggling to remember the full lyrics of some of their songs.

Some may roll their eyes at the fantastical premise, but really, it isn't any more ridiculous than Godzilla's monsters or the Avengers' super powers. The two leads are charming and Boyle reminds viewers that he is one of cinema's best visual stylists. There are moments here when the mostly amusing script lags, but Boyle's pizzazz keeps the film from grinding to a halt.

While hearing the Beatles' songs is always a pleasure, the movie ignores an interesting question. The Beatles' music would have been great art regardless of the era it was released. But it was fairly unique because it was both great art and wildly, unbelievably popular. When an artist achieves commercial popularity, is it solely the result of the art or is it a combination of the art and the timing of its creation?

But overall, Yesterday is an enjoyable two hours at the movies. Most importantly, it is an original idea in a summer full of reboots and sequels. Whether or not you're charmed by Yesterday's central premise, it's important for Hollywood to still make films with weird, goofy, and out-there plots.

*** stars (out of four)

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