05 July 2019| Comments Off on Yesterday     by Sean Chavel


The fast cutting is everywhere in Danny Boyle’s musical comedy Yesterday. But instead of being frenzied or disorienting, it is quite exemplary for this kind of whirlwind comedy. Boyle, whose last box office success was not “Steve Jobs” but “127 Hours,” is also having fun with the off-kilter camera angles (okay, when doesn’t he?) and yet none of that behind the camera chicanery gets in the way of loose and eager performances. Although Himesh Patel, a cafe and boardwalk musician named Jack Malik who becomes the only person on Earth to wake up one day and know the Beatles and all its transcendent lyrics, has too fixed a hangdog look on his face thrice too often.

It doesn’t end up having too much hocus pocus explanation really, but another sequence Boyle has fun with is when all the electricity goes out in the entire world. Boyle cuts around to different countries, different monuments, lights out. Jack Malik is hit by a truck in this commotion. Ta da, he wakes up with a gift of knowing who John, Paul, George and Ringo were even though now the legend of their music does not exist.

The fun begins there. The fun isn’t taken for granted, either, Boyle gets playful with the situation right away and doesn’t suffocate the premise with maudlin tones until much, much later. Patel wears that shameful face, as I said, but he plays it less stupid than most actors do in such a high concept picture and he’s always thinking and is behind the music foremost. But he gets help from his friends.

Lily James, usually a carefree blonde but here a dorky (but still hot) brunette, is a blast of sunshine as the small-time music manager and friend zone babe to Jack. She’s cast aside so Kate McKinnon can be the capricious big-time manager to Jack, and although I never laughed at any of her lines I had a wry smile on the whole time. Her slam on Jack is that he’s a little ugly and too much of a funny face and his image needs molded. A little too true of Jack, he needs a lot of work.

Recreating the Beatles songs is, in a word, euphoric. Hearing the cover version of their songs in this movie made me realize why this concept really works here; the classic lyrics themselves are that moving, joyful, sage and profound. It’s a crack up, too, that Jack while reverent to the Beatles, has a hard time remembering all of the lyrics and needs inspiration to get the reconstruction just right.

Yesterday at its best has a lot of exult and gaiety thanks to Richard Curtis (“Love Actually”) script, which only falls into traps in the last third where it is overwritten, with the sentiment turning into a wet blanket and all. And yes, the movie may be fifteen minutes too long. But Boyle gets a beautiful image of Lily James’ face blown up on an IMAX screen, so the maudlin moment at least rests on a pleasing visual to help the medicine go down. So which Beatles song is played over the end credits? I’m going to ruin it for you. It’s “Hey Jude.”

116 Minutes. Rated PG-13.


Film Cousins: “Groundhog Day” (1993); “Clean Slate” (1994); “Once” (2006); “About Time” (2013).

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


There are No Comments about this post

Add Yours!

Comments are closed.