What would you do if a certain thing you love suddenly disappears and only you could remember it? For example, if everybody forgot about Lord of the Rings, would you rewrite it and release it to the public as your own work? The movie Yesterday deals exactly with this potential fantasy, well, tries to deal with it, because there is a lot of to be desired about this movie and after watching it, all I can really think about is: “Well, that was a missed opportunity”.
Intriguing premise with unlikable protagonist
Yesterday is the new movie directed by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later and Sunshine) and written by Richard Curtis (Notting Hill, Love Actually and Bridget Jones trilogy). The movie follows struggling singer-songwriter Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) and his friend Ellie Appleton (Lily James). Jack’s career is in trouble, but everything changes after a mysterious blackout. Certain things disappear and nobody can remember them except Jack, one of the things that vanished are The Beatles and their songs. So, Jack starts performing their songs and claim they are his, which leads to quick rise to fame, but not everything is at it seems.
Major problems with Yesterday are surprisingly the story, the characters and also the comedy elements. The blackout itself isn’t really an issue, it is not explained in the movie and is a normal fantastical setting. Characters of the movie are the real problem. First of all protagonist Jack is very unlikable, his rise to fame is through a fraud and he doesn’t tell it to anybody, not even his best friend Ellie. And worst of all when he reveals that songs aren’t his, it all seems like he is only doing it to get Ellie (and entirely not from his own conscience). And there is a very good argument made in the movie why he should keep on singing Beatles songs, yet he decided to reveal his fraud to everybody… There even is a point in the movie where Jack and Ed Sheeran are talking about songwriting and Beatles songs. Jack cannot even came up with what is “Hey Jude” about and what inspiration he took. Well, he can but it is very basic, when I watched this part the only thing I was thinking about was: “Hey dude, are you even a fucking songwriter?” This nasty picture of the protagonist is really troubling, when I think about it now. Other main characters are Ellie and Jack’s manager Deborah. Ellie is a relatively fine character, played well by Lily James, Deborah Hammer (Kate McKinnon) is the most stereotypical evil manager imaginable, you realize that not all managers are evil and some genuinely care about their clients? Not helped by the fact that Kate McKinnon awfully overacts.
If only the story and comedy were at least on the part, but every part of the story is really predictable and clichéd, it’s the “will they or not fall in love with each other” or “our protagonist is lying, but everything is forgiven in the end” and “real-life situation would be horrible for the protagonist, but in the movie it’s happy-end”. Jokes in the movie fell flat. The best joke in the movie was in the trailer (Hey Jude or Hey Dude).
Don’t even try….
Don’t even try to justify this movie with “it is just a summer good feel movie and love letter to The Beatles”. If the story is predictable, the protagonist unlikable and jokes are lame, I honestly don’t care. Yes, the movie has some redeeming qualities, like acting, Himesh Patel was really good and technically the movie is pretty great. I am not giving this movie a pass just because it’s “a feel good movie”, so it was pretty bad and it is a real shame because this premise could be really funny, but Yesterday simply wasn’t, I am sorry that I have to give it only a 4/10.
Image 1: UP (Movie poster)
Image 2: Wikipedia