Cinema review: ‘Yesterday’ shares some of The Beatles’ sheer magic

by Shane Dillon

With summer silly season well and truly underway, there’s a slew of big budget blockbusters swirling around at cinemas at the moment, with some more heavy hitters on the way.

However, many of the smaller, lower-budget films offer plenty of decent fare too, with a number of quirkier films well worth dipping into.

And as we all know, there’s certainly a lot of potentially crowd-pleasing stuff to dip into when referring to The Beatles, with the Fab Four providing solid material for Yesterday (Cert 12A, 116 mins), a would-be crowdpleaser.

But, much like the works of the individual Beatles themselves, the end result has some mixed success…

Jack (Himesh Patel) is a struggling small town singer/songwriter going nowhere, fast, despite the loyal support of his friend and manager, Ellie (Lily James).

He seems doomed to be playing to two-men-and-a-dog audiences forever until he’s in an accident during a mysterious global blackout.

Cue the film’s high-concept hook: when Jack comes to, he soon discovers that absolutely nobody has ever heard of The Beatles or knows any of their songs, with Jack’s renditions of what Beatles songs he can remember immediately reversing his fortunes.

Quicker than you can say Eleanor Rigby, Jack’s caught the action of Ed Sheeran, with a support gig further accelerating Jack’s meteoric rise on the back of all the Beatles songs that only he knows but can now claim are his.

Unfortunately, striking a rare sour note in the midst of the Beatles songs, Jack’s realised that he’s fallen for Ellie, but his sudden fame and spectacular success pulls them apart.

With the prospect of fame in America as his debut album of Beatles songs looms, Jack has the world at his feet – a world without Ellie.

What’s a desperate guy to do? Keep the music of The Beatles alive as seemingly their only custodian, or jack it all in for the women he loves?

There’s fun to be had in the blending of Jack’s blatant plagiarism and his simultaneous wish to celebrate The Beatles, with the film doing its best to shoehorn in all the musical notes you might expect although, personally, a second of Ed Sheeran in anything is a second too much, for me.

The leads also have a nice chemistry together, with James proving particularly good in her girl-next-door ordinariness, while Patel at least doesn’t murder the songs with his renditions.

You could certainly spend a lot worse time than this 90 minutes with Yesterday, today or tomorrow…

  • Verdict: 7/10

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