There is a lot to love about Yesterday.
I’m going to pretend like I don’t spend a ton of my days thinking about time travel and the butterfly effect and just go with this movie for what it was. Don’t misunderstand, there’s no time travel, but the consequences would be the same. A world without the Beatles (and other mystically vanished pop culture staples) would not be the same world; yet it is. Causality aside, this was a fun and heartwarming movie.
I must admit that I was surprised. I thought this was just going to be a funny Beatles tribute, when it was actually one of those hokey, feel-good British love stories in the same vein as Love Actually or Knotting Hill. And, frankly, that’s where the most unbelievable things in the movie happen. It’s far easier to buy into the idea that the Beatles could blink out of existence than it is to think people have the emotional maturity to act like they act in certain parts of this movie. Of course, I suppose Brits do set the standard in that regard, but if this is the extent to which that is to be believed the population as a whole apparently loves hard and gives up easy, and I’m pretty sure that last part can’t possibly be true. Even still, a British rom-com wouldn’t be what it is if the girl wasn’t good-hearted, the boy a repentant fool, the competition a dorky schmuck and the American a greedy rat-bastard.
So, add romance next to temporal physics on the things that require a leap and what do you have left? A funny, Beatles tribute…and an amazing, funny Beatles tribute at that.
I’m not a Beatles maniac. I was actually introduced to them relatively late in life in junior high by my friend Clark. I mean, I know their songs (everybody does) and I respect the haircuts, but I’m that guy who’s constantly saying, “I didn’t know that was the Beatles.” This being the case, I went into the movie pretty open to the idea of someone else singing their stuff and I was not disappointed.
Himesh Patel was, well, not to beat the British dead horse, but brilliant! He sang these songs we all know and love in a way that was respectful, but his own. He made me want to buy a Beetles greatest hits album, along with the soundtrack so I could also have his covers. His character portrayed deep reverence for their work and there’s no way he could do them such justice without the same being true in real life. Lily James was also the most perfect, kind, loving, long-suffering, grounded friend/rock/love interest any movie could hope for. Plus Ed Sheeran even found a suitable vehicle for his acting forays after that lamentable Game of Thrones appearance finally bringing him a bit of on-screen redemption. (On that note, the only thing I genuinely hated about the movie was that I had to listen to “The Shape of You,” but even that was necessary because, I mean, if you haven’t figured it out yet there are a lot of Beatles covers.) Last, but never least, Kate McKinnon walked that fine line of SNL character hilarity and real movie believability like the pro we all know her to be. So much so that I dare somebody to describe her as “not ready for prime time.”
Casual Beatles fans like myself will find entertainment in both the music and the story, even if the latter has some genuinely eye-rolling moments.
True Beatles fans will love this and need no reason other than the music.
Toxic Beatles fans just need to stay home and listen to their pretentious vinyl.