‘Yesterday’: A Romantic Comedy With A Twist
Back when we went to school, the music classes were just a bunch of unidentified noises coming out from the flutes, tambourines, and triangles following simple songs. However, we all taught that we were creating beautiful music and one day we could even become something bigger. That passion faded away as we realized that there was no hope for most of us.
Yesterday is the story of the latest romantic comedy from Richard Curtis and it is no different. Himesh Patel plays as Jack Malik, an unsuccessful musician alongside his biggest fan, friend, as well as manager Ellie James. Richard usually writes love comedies filled with emotion that will leave you joyful or heartbreaking at the end. Yesterday is right in that sweet spot, except this time is a love affair between filmgoers and The Beatles.
As we know, even almost more than 40 years that they separated, and unfortunately two of them passed away, the Beatles continue as being one of the finest examples of immortal success in the music industry.
In 2015, Jim Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts of the NFL paid $2.2million to have a drum kit of Ringo Starr, so he could complete his collection that has already guitars from McCartney, George Harrison and John Lennon. The passion for the band is still live and kicking and even new generations fall in love with the music of The Beatles.
So, the really big twist comes after Jack Malik is knocked out by a car during a worldwide blackout that darkened the entire world. Jack wakes up in the hospital days after and he sings ‘Yesterday’ as Ellie is brought to tears thinking that he wrote it. Soon he realizes that he is the only person on Earth that remembers The Beatles.
Jack’s original songs, as well as his voice, which can be heard at the beginning of the movie, are not that bad, but certainly not fit for a world-class singer.
As this is a romantic comedy script by Richard Curtis, Jack will find his way to Ellie, his manager, sooner or later. The good thing about Yesterday is that the director didn’t want to explain to us why Jack is the only one on the planet who remembers their songs. The supernatural reasons would have taken away the charm of the movie and we have to face that it is what it is.
Jack knew that the time for his fame and fortune finally came and he made the songs from The Beatles as his own. Suddenly, he becomes the man he always wanted to be as he is building his audience which is hungry for the hits made 50 years ago.
Later in the movie, Jack meets Ed Sheeran – which of course is played by Ed Sheeran – and proposes a head-to-head songwriting contest that will be judged by officials. In just 10 minutes Jack comes up with “The Long and Winding Road” and it is game over. Even the vote is canceled, and Ed Sheeran accepts the humiliation and bows down to the greater talent.
Eventually, the plot comes to a point where it becomes a choice between success and love. However, since he builds his success based on The Beatles and not his own work, the choice becomes clear.
This is a story where we can see what would happen if there is a cultural hole ripped from the world and taken from us. We are not just human beings represented only by our physical characteristics, but we also have memories and culture that defines ourselves.
In this particular case, the hole in our culture is explained by The Beatles, which brings some comedy in the movie, but it only defines the point. If we lose something from our memory, like loved ones and friendships, we could lose the purpose of life. Without it, we would be nothing.
It seems like the filmmakers were more concerned about delivering their message with this film, rather than capturing the real thing from The Beatles and the fame. Yesterday is more like a novel than a classic movie and we think it would have been better if the directors took the movie a bit more seriously just to capture its magic.
The movie currently holds a 7,0/10 rating in IMDB and a 63% score in the Tomatometer, of Rotten Tomatoes (although the audience score is slightly better). Besides the average scores, the movie is highly regarded by critics such as Richard Brody, from the New Yorker who describe it as “a romantic comedy, but a conceptually complex one, built on a peculiarly reactionary framework of private life and a culturally conservative pop classicism”.