The perhaps initially strange pairing of Richard Curtis and Danny Boyle, who wrote and directed Yesterday, works brilliantly. Because this is not some bizarre mash-up of Love Actually and 28 Days Later, oh no. This surreal journey about a struggling singer/songwriter is a joyous ride through the back catalogue of The Beatles set against the backdrop of the sun-drenched British summer of 2018 (unless, of course, you’re one of the handful of people out there who really hate The Beatles, in which case you should take the long and winding road away from this film – it’s not for you).
When Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) has a bike accident, he wakes to discover that he’s lost a couple of teeth . . . while the rest of the world appear to have lost all knowledge of The Beatles and their music. As he sings Beatles track after Beatles track, trying to understand what’s going on and find someone – anyone – who knows who John, Paul, Ringo and George are, people start to be really impressed with his *ahem* original songwriting. And it doesn’t take long before his fame and popularity grows, especially when Ed Sheeran comes knocking on his door.
Of course, leaving his little Suffolk home behind in order to follow his dreams of stardom is not as easy as you’d think. For one thing, it’d mean he’d be leaving behind Ellie (Lily James), the woman who’s been there to help him and manage his music since they were teenagers at school together. Jack has become so accustomed to having Ellie around that he doesn’t see just how desperately she loves him. But even Jack knows that it’s not all about fame when love is all you need . . . and perhaps he needs to get back to where he started to find just what he he’s been searching for.
The film boasts a supporting cast as delightful as the film itself, including the marvellous British gems Sanjeev Bhaskar and Meera Syal who come together on the big screen as Jack’s parents. They’re there to poke great fun at the absurdity of the central concept, from getting the song titles wrong (Leave It Be, was it?) to not knowing who Ed Sheeran is when he’s standing in their kitchen. Kate McKinnon also appears to thoroughly enjoy playing the epitome of all things evil-music-manager, with her character fully owning up to how badly she wants to squeeze all the money she can out of her new star.
Yesterday is utterly joyous and smile-inducing throughout. It’s a glorious celebration of the intoxicating beauty of music, human connection and the beautiful British summertime.