Film Review: Yesterday

A funny, heart-warming, and at times stressful film that tells you plagiarism can pay off, and that offers a ray of hope to all of us in the friendzone.

I have to admit; I’ve never really been a big Beatles fan – quite a thing to admit on the website of a radio station. Musically, they’ve never really grabbed me, and I’ve often thought they were only as successful as they were because they came up with their songs first. Yesterday wouldn’t entirely back that idea, but on first impression one could argue that that is the basic premise of the film – somewhat strange for a tribute.

When warehouse worker and struggling musician Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) wakes up to find he might be the only man that has heard of the Beatles, he sees his way to his big break by being the person to perform their songs and lay claim to them as his own. When one reads such a summary it’s perfectly reasonable to expect a rather dull, predictable and quite frankly naff film that’s all rather happy-clappy to the point of being irritating – but this is a film directed by Danny Boyle and written by Richard Curtis, and their capacity to put together a damn good film (although, to my knowledge this is the first time they’ve done so together) is evident yet again. Boyle and Curtis have put together a truly heart-warming, engaging and funny film, that holds your interest for the duration.

Patel performs well and with confidence in the role of Jack who is that archetypal Curtis-style character of being lovable but ultimately hopeless (in an entirely endearing manner, you understand) whose group of friends both support and challenge – Lily James excels in the role of friend-but-maybe-more-than-just-friends superfan, manager and driver Emily. Ed Sheeran’s cameo as… Ed Sheeran is a nice touch and he performs better than may be expected given the mixed history of celebrities appearing as themselves (see David Beckham in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword) – it’s hardly a wonder he got the job in the ketchup commercial – even if he accidentally attempts to sabotage ‘Hey Jude’ in the process.

Ultimately, this film is not particularly thought provoking, it certainly isn’t hard hitting, and at no point is there any challenge to modern society – but to expect it to be or do any of those things would be ridiculous. Some argue it isn’t even a particularly great tribute film, and its plot might be a little straight forward and predictable, but none of that really matters. It’s funny and lovable, and still gives you goose-bumps – and in a world where bad news is constant and you may want to despair, its nice to willingly suspend your disbelief and laugh, love and sing along to a film that makes you smile.

And besides, I’ve certainly taken two things away from it; Firstly, I may still remain undazzled by the Beatles, but I can’t deny that their songs are damn good fun. And secondly… as a student, it’s nice to know that plagiarism can pay off. Well, sort of anyway…

If you’re in need of a bit of light-hearted yet engaging cinema this summer, regardless of whether you’re a Beatles fan or not; Yesterday is for you.