MOVIE REVIEW: Rediscover The Beatles in “Yesterday”

Things simply don’t exist anymore in the world of Yesterday.
It all started the night a blackout occurred and caused struggling musician Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) to be hit by a bus. Everything in the world has progressed like normal since, but without certain iconic things…like The Beatles. Jack Malik appears to be the only person who remembers them, so he does what any struggling musician would do:
He claims those songs for his own and enjoys almost instant fame.
It doesn’t come without a price though. Jack is an honest man who isn’t comfortable taking praise for work that isn’t his, much less the dirtier trappings of fame. He also realizes, as his former life slips away, that he might lose the one person who matters most.
The story-line and characters of Yesterday are paper thin (don’t expect an explanation for that blackout or the resulting amnesia), but the cast has enough charisma to fill the gaps. There’s also just enough light-hearted humor (courtesy of Richard Curtis, who also wrote Love Actually, Bridget Jones’s Diary and Notting Hill) and romance to keep the mood buoyant. In fact, the will-they-or-won’t-they between Jack and his manager, Ellie (played by Lily James) is the only frustrating part of Yesterday. I’m pretty sure there isn’t a straight man alive who would “Friend Zone” Lily James, even with a dated hair-style and dowdy clothes. We’re also expected to believe that Jack Malik is not attractive, which is a stretch since Himesh Patel is just as swoon-worthy as Ms. James.
None of this really matters once the music starts because the real star of Yesterday is the legendary catalogue of The Beatles. Their songs resonate (and surprisingly rock) just as hard today as they did almost sixty years ago. There’s also a bit of magic to the way Yesterday gives us a chance to hear them for what feels like the very first time. (B+)
***If you’re wondering about taking kids, know that Yesterday is rated PG-13 for “suggestive content and language.” Any sexual references or dirty words in this film are on the extremely mild side, though. In fact, I expected it to be rated PG, since I noticed NOTHING that could be considered offensive. I would recommend Yesterday for kids 10 and older (who don’t mind a love story), but a bit of Beatles knowledge might help. Yesterday might even be a good way to introduce youngsters to these songs, though kids might prefer Himesh Patel’s versions of them!

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