Arts & Leisure

Movie review: Yesterday

Himesh Patel stars in “Yesterday” (2019).

Yesterday— Running Time: 1:56 — Rating: PG-13
Any summary of “Yesterday” would miss its magic.  Don’t look for the good, the mediocre or the bad in this one. Just try watching and waiting for it to wrap you in its arms. That takes about five minutes. In its entire length there is nothing by the scriptwriter or any actor that trips the whole, and the whole is not a story so much as it is a fairy tale.
Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) and his dear friend Ellie (Lily James) have a friendship that borders on more but is rooted in her being his manager while she isn’t working at her job as a school teacher. She never gives up on his career even though singing to unresponsive bar patrons gives him no professional or emotional lift. How’s that for an ordinary beginning?
One night the whole world goes dark and silent for 12 seconds and when that’s over, Jack sings “Yesterday” on his new guitar and discovers the world has become a place where no one has ever heard of The Beatles. He searches frantically for them on his computer and finds no mention of them anywhere. In this sudden new world, they never existed.
By this early time in the movie, we are already hooked by Jack, who is now a creature of our imaginations as he sings the songs of The Beatles as if they were his own. As his success grows, he knows he must move to Los Angeles with Rocky (Joel Fry) who will manage his career as he soars to the heights of the celebrity he has earned with the songs of a group that has disappeared from world history.
That’s the last you’ll hear from me about the plot that unfolds and envelops us without even an ounce of conventional unpleasantness. Oh yes, one nasty successful business executive (Sophia Di Martino) reaches for control of Jack and fails. Her personality is so out of tone with all the others that we wonder if she was introduced just to show us mean people don’t survive in Jack’s world. 
I went in thinking that any new interpretation by unknowns of The Beatles’ music simply couldn’t work and I came out grinning in its success.  n no way a true anecdote, it’s a fable designed with imaginative twists and turns and acted by a cast that understood precisely what they were doing. 
Sitting in the dark theater and hearing appreciative laughter in all different parts of the story was a lovely tribute to everyone involved. Director Danny Boyle and screenwriter Richard Curtis created a flawless script that is interpreted beautifully by a cast of actors who understand exactly how to deliver the magic of the imagination created by those two men.
It’s hard to convey in words the magic running through the performance of Patel as he carries the fairy tale to all its happy endings. Just go and let it all roll gently over you. 
— Reviewed by Joan Ellis

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