When a solar flair causes a 12-second planetary blackout, big box store worker and part-time pub musician Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) is hit by a trolley while riding his bicycle home from a gig and wakes up in the hospital dazed, confused and missing a couple of front teeth. Relieved that he’s not seriously injured, his friends, along with best friend, school teacher and manager, Ellie (Lily James), give him a replacement guitar and are gobsmacked when he plays and sings the Beatles’ classic “Yesterday.” Jack, in disbelief, questions them about the song and the Beatles but none has any memory of the group. Could this really be possible?
Returning home, Jack Googles “The Beatles” and gets only the insect variety. Writing the titles to all the groups’s songs on Post-It notes, he creates a collage of color on his bedroom wall. Slowly, Jack begins picking out the melodies on his guitar. Is this the big break he has been waiting for?
Playing the Beatles catalog in local pubs, Jacks popularity soars and Ed Sheeran comes calling for him to be his opening act. As before, the songs hit a chord with the world and soon Jack is traveling in private jets, recording in LA and signing recording contracts under the guidance of a sterotypically slick Hollywood agent (Kate McKinnon of “Saturday Night Live”). His family, friends and his love, Ellie, have been left behind. All is going well for Jack – or is it? Are all his dreams coming true, or is the facade of being a musical genius becoming a bit too much to handle ?
This tale of “what if” against the backdrop of the fabulous catalog of Beatles music became a cautionary tale. Could I become famous on the ideas and work of others without giving them credit? Can the euphoria of success and acclaim muffle ones conscience and silence that little voice in your head and dreams.
While the story concept was fascinating, it was the music that filled my heart and brought a smile to my face. I was immediately a teenager again in the ‘60s watching the world go crazy to the music and lyrics that rocked my world and changed music over 50 years ago. The film retraced the Beatles odyssey to Abbey Road and Penny Lane and finally to the churchyard and the grave of Eleanor Rigby using the music as a map. By the end of the film, not one in the theater left as the music played on and we all broke into song, waving our arms and singing “Hey Jude” during the final credits. It became a multi-generatioanl rock concert filled with memories. After all, no one should forget ... yesterday.
“Yesterday” is rated PG-13 for for suggestive content and language.