The movie critics (or at least, many of them) are wrong about Yesterday, the Richard Curtis-penned movie released in June 2019. Yes, Yesterday features 15 songs written by The Beatles. Yes, it is based upon a fantastical premise: an alt-universe where only one middling musician remembers that the Beatles ever existed. Yes, it stars a lot of actors that may be unfamiliar to general audiences, along with one rock star who is very well known….as a rock star, not an actor. Add them all up and you’ve got a fun, emotional-filled homage to the spirit of the Beatles and their songs. It is a movie about the importance of love and truth — the two principles about which The Beatles sang, and for which one of them may have died. Yesterday should be seen by anyone who appreciates the power of music, the power of love and the power of truth, because that’s what it’s about. Plus, it is forking funny!
The Story is Fun
How could you not want to see a movie whose basic premise is that no one remembers The Beatles or any of their songs….except for one musician who commits to preserving these songs for this Beatles-less world. Jack Malik, a struggling musician, initally realizes that he has a competitive advantage in his chosen profession; he can pawn off some of the most perfect songs in modern history as his own and reap the fame and fortune that accompany those songs. But then, Malik comes to a far more profound realization; these songs are bigger than him or any other single person. Indeed, Malik has been blessed with the superpower of Beatles music. And with that superpower comes a super-responsibility to use those powers for good, not evil. (Comedienne Kate McKinnon is on board to personify Evil as an over-the-top music industry exec).
Wrapped into all of the moral-hazard conflicts is a true love story between Ellie and Jack, beautifully portrayed by the movie’s lead actors. The requisite chemistry between the actors is fully on-display. As a viewer, you care about these two people struggling to rescue their undeniable mutual affection from their fear of rejection. These are good, but confused, characters — like most all of us. They are joined by their love of music, yet can’t figure out how to deeply connect to each other. As you would imagine, The Beatles’ songs bring them to the place where both of them deservedly should arrive.
The Story is Profound
In Yesterday, Richard Curtis and Danny Boyle have presented a rom-com masterclass. Curtis, in particular, has written some of the most famous and profitable rom-coms in the last three decades. Their craftmanship is evident in both the writing and direction of the movie. Their casting acumen is almost faultless — albeit Kate McKinnon’s character might have been reined-in just a touch. The humor is abundant and gentle. But, it is in the movie’s third act where Curtis plays his ace-in-the-hole. In one seminal scene, the deeply conflicted Jack encounters someone who gives him clarity about how to resolve the two major conflicts that are torturing his soul. The scene is both unexpected and somewhat controversial. Some movie viewers have hated it. Some have loved it. Boyle, in interviews, refers to the scene as a Marmite scene; people either hate it or love it. To the haters, we say: “you’ve missed the entire point of the movie if you hate this scene.” It’s perfect. And it represents everything that The Beatles music and life philosophies are all about. To the lovers, we say: “you’ve seen it. Now live it.”
The Story Needs to be Seen by Others
Perhaps what’s most important about Yesterday is that it needs to be seen by others. The initial box-office receipts are somewhat disappointing. The movie critics who disliked this commoner-class movie may have possibly poisoned the well for the many movie-goers who would be enchanted by this modern-day fable about love, truth and beauty. And that’s a shame, because not only is the movie very good, but it is also very important.
Don’t take our word for it: check out the message from Yesterday’s two lead actors. This movie is a passion-project of some of our best filmakers and actors. Learn about why they’ve devoted so much of themselves to reacquaint the world with the magical gifts bestowed upon us by John, Paul, George and Ringo.