Stars: Himesh Patel, Lily James, Ed Sheeran, Kate McKinnon, James Corden, Justin Edwards, Sarah Lancashire and Robert Carlyle as John Lennon
Director: Danny Boyle
Scriptwriters: Richard Curtis from a story by Jack Barth and Richard Curtis
Music: Daniel Pemberton
Cinematography: Christopher Ross
Rating: PG 13
Running Length: 116 Minutes
Imagine, waking up one morning and finding out you are the only person on the planet who remembers the Beatles and their music. This is the premise of “Yesterday” starring newcomer Himesh Patel (BBC “Eastenders”) as Jack, the only guy who remembers Beatles music.
Now this premise tends to have one think of a TV series that could have someone waking up one morning and being the only person remembering Elvis Presley, or George Gershwin or Cole Porter or Buddy Holly? This could go on and on, so I will backtrack to “Yesterday” and you can see what happens in the script by Richard Curtis and Jack Barth. Strange things can occur in this universe.
The story follows the adventures of Jack (Patel) who is an amateur musician in England and has a girlfriend, Ellie (Lily James from “Downton Abbey.”) After an evening accident, Jack wakes up to find he is the only person on Earth to remember the Beatles and their music. Accidentally, he is humming Beatles music and people hear him, wanting to know where he got this lovely music and who wrote it? Jack is steered to musician Ed Sheeran (playing himself) who guides Jack into a music career with “Beatle music”, and being handled by agent Debra (Kate McKinnon from television’s “SNL.”) Along the way, Jack and Ellie have arguments about commitment. Jack actually finds John Lennon (Robert Carlyle) who is living a peaceful family life without fame. Jack’s career soars, but then…. someone else appears who also remembers Beatle music. Jack has been taking unwanted credit for the Beatles songs. Now, what to do?
“Yesterday” toys with the idea of plagiarism. What happens when out of a billion or so people, you are the only one who can remember famous people and their work? If you try to correct someone, it comes back to you as you are modest…this is your claim to fame….and the tide is going against you. It is easier to go with the flow. Becoming famous is a heady idea.
Newcomer Himesh Patel does fine in the role of Jack, who literally falls into this predicament…and can sing, also. His facial expressions tell the story. Lily James is the girlfriend who wants commitment, but finds herself being left behind (reminiscent of “A Star Is Born.”) Ed Sheeran and James Corden play themselves, one being the musician who offers to help and the other a TV personality with a large audience. If this had happened generations ago, the late Ed Sullivan Show would have been the basis for stardom.
I found the premise of waking up and being the only person on our planet to remember Beatles music, a novel idea. Seriously, it could form the basis for a television series with the “Remembrance Of The Week” story. In “Yesterday”, having a John Lennon be there who has lived a completely different life from the John Lennon we remember, and current television and music personalities adds a touch of realism to this fantasy of “what if?” Himesh Patel does his own singing in “Yesterday” including the title song, “Yesterday,” and “Let It Be,” “Hard Day’s Night” and “Hey Jude.” Catch the soundtrack for this film.
Copyright 2019 Marie Asner