Tuesday 25 June 2019

Film Review: Yesterday

Danny Boyle and Richard Curtis join forces to pay tribute to The Beatles in Yesterday.

What would you do if you woke up one day and everyone else in the world had completely forgotten about The Beatles? That's the underlying (and intriguing) premise at the centre of Danny Boyle's Yesterday, a film that sees struggling singer/songwriter Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) shoot to worldwide stardom after he is hit by a bus and wakes up the next day to find only he can remember the era-defining work of John, Paul, George and Ringo.

An all-star line-up of British talent assembles for Yesterday; in addition to Boyle on directorial duties, Richard Curtis writes and, obviously, The Beatles' extensive, iconic discography serves as the musical backdrop. Thrown into the mix are the likes of Lily James, Ed Sheeran, James Corden, Sanjeev Bhaskar and newcomer Patel in the lead role. As you might expect, this is a warm comforter of a film, filled with brilliant music, witty dialogue and a wistful romance at its core – in short, I loved it.

Boyle brings a bunch of his usual tricks to the table, with a ton of canted angles, bright colours and montages keeping Yesterday in step with his previous work. It makes for a curious fusion with Curtis' quips and wry wit, but on the whole I felt it worked. Yesterday is by no means as out there or adventurous with the camera as Slumdog Millionaire or 28 Days Later, but Boyle still has his fingerprints all over this more conventional romantic comedy.

It's Curtis' writing that really shines, particularly through the lead duo. Patel is great as this starstruck musician swept up by sudden hysteria – and he can really carry a tune. Better still is James as schoolteacher and Jack's manager Ellie. Kind, quiet and totally smitten, James is charming and terrific all at once.

Yesterday doesn't stray from its characters to explore the depths of its conceit, which some might find frustrating. But at the end of the day, the film isn't about how or why The Beatles have disappeared from the world's collective memory. It's a tale about two childhood friends who discover fame and fortune only amplify the pre-existing faults in their relationship. This isn't science-fiction, it's just a romantic comedy that uses fantasy or sci-fi to support its narrative (in a similar fashion to another wonderful Curtis joint, About Time).

The Verdict: 8/10

Look, it was always going to be a challenge finding fault in a film that is essentially one long playlist of classic Beatles tracks, but Boyle and Curtis do something interesting with the concept and don't just coast along on the soundtrack. A sweet, soaring crowdpleaser.

Yesterday is in cinemas across Australia from Thursday 28 June.


  1. I'm so glad this is living up to expectations. I'm not a Beatles fan but I love the idea, I'll be seeing it this weekend :)

  2. I'm glad to hear this is good! I'm likely going to watch it on Monday.



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