Abbey Road Minus The Beatles

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Yesterday The Movie Gets Thumbs Up

A Cozy Rom-Com In A World Minus The Beatles

July 2, 2019

Yesterday...all my troubles seemed so far away.  It was probably because the songs penned by Paul McCartney and John Lennon were so transformational.  The movie Yesterday was a treasured bring-back for kids who grew up hearing Beatles music...and for kids who appreciate the genius of modern-day pop icon Ed Sheeran, who drags the movie into the fierce and often unfriendly music business of the present.  

The screenplay was written by Richard Curtis, a master of romantic comedy (Love Actually, Bridget Jones Diary), Yesterday’s tender happily-ever-after ending comes at you like a slow train through the entire film.  No surprise.

Director Danny Boyle (A Life Less Ordinary, Slumdog Millionaire) is a champion of juxtaposing life and art.  He did it again in familiar “what if” style in Yesterday.  What if the Beatles never existed?  Except to one young struggling musician, Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) and two fans.  The rest of the 7.7 billion people on Earth were in the dark about the Beatles after a 12 second worldwide power outage. 

Enter Ed Sheeran, seeking the songwriting talents of this otherwise undiscovered singer-songwriter.  Ed drags Jack from his friend, manager and latent love interest Ellie (Lily James) in the U.K. to Hollywood where he is subsequently discovered, scrubbed, made over and presented to the world as the latest pop sensation (who happened to have the entire Beatles song catalog as his content).

The fatal turnabout comes when Jack uncovers the secret his heart had been harboring:  Ellie completes him. Nothing else matters.  

Without spoiling the experience, I will share that there are a few unexpected twists and turns which heighten Jack's adventure.  And you have to see Kate McKinnon's (of SNL fame) portrayal of a money-hungry music business exec. Hands down the best acting job among the cast.  

I have read several reviews of the of the flick that were critical of the musical treatment of these sacred Lennon-McCartney songs.  Yesterday was not written or produced to be high art.  It's a fun, lighthearted love story, carried by an ironic twist and underscored by the most significant collection of songs of the rock era.  It's a tribute to the genius of the Beatles. Tributes are never as good as the real thing. If hearing stripped down, amateurish adaptations would make you cringe, hang around for the credits.  They roll during all seven minutes of “Hey, Jude”, the original Beatles recording. It sounds awesome in the theater.

4 stars from me.   -Smokey