I saw YESTERDAY about 2 hrs after I had gotten out of the utter filth that was the live action Aladdin remake, so needless to say, you can already tell that I’m probably going to recommend it even if its only a fraction better than the latter. It’s definitely above a fraction better, but it still wasn’t the film it needed to be, because of a few distracting narrative choices the screenplay decided to take, and also by the fact that the whole premise wasn’t as fleshed out as it needed to be either. The movie is definitely a crowd pleaser, as this is the 2nd week it is out and my screening was nearly full on a Sunday afternoon. It just seemed all too…by the books. Not in a terrible way like Aladdin managed to shit out, but in a finished product just to cater to only modern audiences type of way. Which is a little bit disappointing, considering the film was directed by the great Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, the great Best Picture winner Slumdog Millionaire).
For those not actually in the know as I am, this is the film that delayed Danny Boyle from directing Bond 25…even though he eventually left the project because of “creative differences.” Which is actually really funny considering that NONE of Danny Boyle’s trademark eye for the camera shots or artistry is even remotely in this movie. ANYONE could’ve directed this, it was literally a point and shoot affair from the first frame to the end credits. This is definitely a movie where I’d like to sit with Danny Boyle for an hour or two and ask him his directorial choices for this and why he even agreed to make this film to begin with. Did the studio own his head in every step of making this movie, perhaps the real catalyst for why he left directing Bond 25? It’d be really interesting to find out.
If you haven’t heard of this movie, the premise is simple, but could’ve been so much more. A failing and struggling musician, with a cute and lovable manager he’s known for 20 years but doesn’t know she’s in love with him (the most unbelievable aspect of this story), gets hit by a bus on his way home from a terrible gig. When he comes to, he finds more missing than just two of his front teeth: that he’s the only one who remember The Beatles and several other things (don’t want to spoil too much of the fun) such as cigarettes and Oasis. He finds this out for when he is given a new guitar after the one he had was damaged permanently by the accident, he plays one of the Beatles greatest songs ‘Yesterday,” and everyone who he plays it for has never heard it and thinks that he came up with it. A short time later, he is remembering all of the Beatles songs, acting like he came up with them and singing them for people, and then bam!…he is an instant sensation.
My main problem with the film is that there should’ve been more conflict. He just becomes and overnight sensation, but there aren’t that many obstacles in his way on his way to fame. I would be spoiling anything by divulging anything more, but I will say that it looks like an obstacle might be thrown in his way really late into the movie, but that obstacle is quickly blown off as something that wasn’t even an obstacle to begin with. The film reveals there is a bunch of other stuff missing from the world, but instead of maybe fleshing some of that out along with The Beatles revelation, they are just made as quick reference ha-ha jokes. And I understand the movie is focusing on a world where The Beatles never existed, but to just play some of these other revelations off seems like a cheap grab at some jokes when they could’ve complimented the film, with some subplots that could’ve made everything tighter. I mean think about it, what if you woke up one day to a world where something you loved and remember fondly, pop culture or something of that nature wise, and you had the chance to give it to the world. Certainly there is more of an interesting take on it in some screenwriters brain than what we got here. The implications didn’t seem all that risky, when they really should have been.
Don’t get me wrong, it is still a good film and I’m still going to recommend it. The film does have some pacing issues, and it is due to the fact that the cute and great Lily James, his manager that is head over heels in love with him even though he can’t see it, doesn’t go with him on his way to fame. She stays home since she is really a school teacher by day, which feels like a cheap screenplay trick for them to just have easy conflict between them because they are miles apart. James’ character should’ve been every step of the way with him, as their chemistry was undeniably good, the scenes of them together being the highlight of the film. In his debut film role, Himesh Patel plays the main protagonist Jack, and he does a really great job singing and acting alongside his peers. I would like to see him in more things in the future. I have a feeling he could absolutely crush it in a very dramatic role. One thing that took me out of the film a little was a small role by Kate McKinnon as his new manager when he starts to get famous. Thankfully she gets a little serious as the film goes along and doesn’t go all weird SNL McKinnon on our asses.
Even though I wasn’t fond of some of the narrative choices, I did like several of them, part of the ending being one. I promise not to give too much away, but I thought the movie was going to do something that most Hollywood films always do, in that everything about this new world where several things don’t exist anymore and his rise to fame was all in his head as I thought it was going to reveal that he was a coma after his accident. Something of that nature. Now while I won’t reveal what actually happens, I’m happy to report that the film doesn’t go that route. While it does combine this good narrative choice with a predictable sappy one, the fact that it didn’t go where I thought it would covers up and makes me forgive some of the faults I thought were present in the screenplay. I do recommend Yesterday though, especially if you are one of those modern audience members reading my reviews and need a quick and cheap romantic pick me up. Just don’t expect anything as grand as Love Actually (both were written by the same screenwriter).