YESTERDAY Is the latest film from visionary TRAINSPOTTING director Danny Boyle, with writing from LOVE ACTUALLY screenwriter Richard Curtis. The film follows the story of Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) after a freak event which means nobody can remember The Beatles; that is, everyone except Jack. Taking advantage of this, Jack uses his knowledge of The Beatles songs to catapult himself to fame and he suffers the consequences that come with it.
Danny Boyle and Richard Curtis as the creative team creates expectations of quality filmmaking. However, if you go into this movie expecting a Boyle film with dark and cynical British humour you will be disappointed, as this is definitely more of a Curtis led production. An upbeat summer musical (albeit not the break-out-in-song kind) which will leave you laughing and smiling at the end. The film is nothing revolutionary and is unlikely to be considered the best film of the year, even if it does have a neat story concept and will leave you feeling entertained and energetic.
“The screenwriting of Richard Curtis is sleek and smooth, with quippy dialogue filled with witty dry humour.”
The screenwriting of Richard Curtis is sleek and smooth, with quippy dialogue filled with witty dry humour. It is clear that Curtis has also done his research. The film is set in Gorleston, Norfolk, as well as some locations in Suffolk and he has clearly made a deep connection with the people there. He has embedded the local culture into the film itself, which has brought a small town feel to this big blockbuster movie and a real underdog feel as a result. Local talent Ed Sheeran superbly plays a well-written version of himself within the movie. Lily James’s acting – as Ellie, Jack’s manager and love interest – within the movie is superb, bringing yet another upbeat performance and that complements the film’s tone massively.
With the recent success of films such as ROCKETMAN and BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY, it is no wonder Boyle wanted to give the band/artist movie a crack. However, what results is no more notable than what we have seen already from the genre. This feels like Boyle’s weakest work; that being said, his weakest is still exceptional film making. The cinematography by Christopher Ross is also notable. Broad sweeping shots of beautiful American and East Anglian landscapes bring a contemplative feel to the film’s otherwise fast pace. The editing by Jon Harris is employed well and complements Curtis’s comedy very well, holding the cut just a little longer than necessary so the jokes settle before it moves on to the next one.
“However, what results is no more notable than what we have seen already from the genre. This feels like Boyle’s weakest work; that being said, his weakest is still exceptional film making.”
One of YESTERDAY’S problems is that it isn’t really a story about The Beatles songs. It’s a story about Jack Malik, and his romantic story and journey to fame. The story doesn’t allow for The Beatles’ songs to be truly experienced and it doesn’t explore its unique premise to the fullest extent. What happens when people remember? Will people ever remember? What impact has the lack of The Beatles (and other things) had on the world? None of this is ever explored and it’s a shame. Additionally, the explanation as to how the event happened in the first place is very weak.
The film does not explore to satisfaction Jack Malik’s guilt at using other people’s songs. Not only this but when Jack does perform these timeless classics they are sometimes altered or changed and I understand how this works from a story perspective. It was a bold move to make but people will be expecting Beatles songs and to some extent a Beatles movie. The movie is called YESTERDAY, after all. Not only this but the heavy use of Ed Sheeran’s songs is to the film’s detriment. Yes, Ed Sheeran is a celebrity and he does elevate the film to another level it would never have had before, but it focuses too much on him. He is practically the film’s anti-hero, but his overuse borders on the annoying and unnecessary.
Aside from a couple of flaws YESTERDAY has brilliant acting and fantastic movie production and manages to leave an energetic and memorable experience that will exist long after leaving the cinema.