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Yesterday (2019): A Movie Review

Updated on August 6, 2019
wingedcentaur profile image

The first step is to know what you do not know. The second step is to ask the right questions. I reserve the right to lean on my ignorance.


Dadgummit! I'm still finding it rather difficult to find satisfactory pictures.

Let's have a summary of the plot, shall we?

Here's what the Google description says:

"Jack Malik is a struggling singer-songwriter in an English seaside town whose dreams of fame are rapidly fading, despite the fierce devotion and support of his childhood best friend, Ellie. After a freak bus accident during a mysterious global blackout, Jack wakes up to discover that The Beatles have never existed. Performing songs by the greatest band in history to a world that has never heard of them, Jack becomes an overnight sensation with a little help from his agent."

That's right: I couldn't even be bothered to put it in my own words!

Friends, I saw this yesterday afternoon. I caught the 4:00 O'clock show and I walked out just before 5:30, at the start of the big marketing meeting scene.

Spoiler alert: There's a big marketing meeting scene in the movie.

Anyway (there I go, writing "anyway"), Jack is the only person in the world who remembers The Beatles.

Or is he?

Dum...Dum...Dum..... Dum...

I'm not feeling this one, guys. I've been thinking long and hard about why this movie just doesn't do "it" for me.

Number One:

From my perspective, the concept, in its execution, turned out not to be nearly as whimsical and fun as I thought it would be.

Why not?

Well, for me, if I am to find a movie "whimsical and fun," there can't be too many loose ends and stray strands, which leave me saying to myself: "Hey, wait a minute. that doesn't make sense."

What I'm saying is that, for me, a movie has to always make sense in it's own universe.

For example, my favorite movie, right now, is the animated film, "Up," about the old man with the balloon house.

For me, "Up," is a whimsical and fun movie that always makes sense in it's own universe. From a literal point of view, the story is, of course, impossible. The story is a fantasy. But from an impressionistic point of view, the film is consistent in its technique.

The definition of "impressionism" I am using can be found on the Google dictionary: "a literary or artistic style that seeks to capture a feeling or experience rather than to achieve an accurate depiction."

And so on and so forth. Anyway, the animated movie, "Up," never trips any of the "Hey, this doesn't make any sense," alarms in my head.

But "Yesterday" does and this interferes with the suspension of disbelief.

How so?

  1. The movie never establishes that Jack Malik (the protagonist) has an obsessive love of and knowledge about The Beatles' history and music. At least the movie could have shown him to be the president of their fan club and a lover of all pop culture of the 1960s/70s generally.
  2. The movie never establishes that "the world," is, somehow, "neglecting" the sacred memory of this sacred rock band.
  3. The movie, then, never brings the two prior points together, to demonstrate why it is that Jack Malik, alone, is the only worthy keeper of the flame, as it were; and that it must be he, I mean HE that introduces/reintroduces the music of The Beatles to a culturally fallen world.
  4. See point #2. Why does the blackout event excise the world's memory of The Beatles and no other act?
  5. The movie accounts for the fact that musical styles have changed since the 1960s and 1970s, when The Beatles did their thing.
  6. The movie did not even do anything to suggest that this kind of music was having a renaissance in our time of 2019. If it had done so, then we, the audience could buy that Beatles music could be dynamically impactful today, you know, in the universe of the movie.

The film is conceptually inconsistent, jarringly disrupting the suspension of disbelief.

The movie establishes that The Beatles have been completely excised from world cultural history. However, that style or family of music has not been excised from world cultural memory. The Rolling Stones still exist in this universe, as well as, all the other musical acts from The Beatles' era, as far as we know.

Therefore, by all rights, the introduction of that style of music, today, should strike the world as quaint and profoundly outdated at best. We would not expect such music to be climbing mainstream charts today. The sound is of its time.

As I say, the movie does not do any of the necessary groundwork to establish a popular hunger for "Beatles-style" music, from the 1960s/70s, in 2019.

We return, now, to the impressionistic question: What is the "feeling or experience" that this film is trying to "capture," as opposed to giving an "accurate depiction"?

Well, sloppily conceived and executed gimmick aside, "Yesterday" appears to be a pretty standard love story.

You have best friends, a man and a woman, who have known each other for decades. By the way, I thought there was good chemistry between the male and female lead, the actor who played Ellie.

Something happens to make one or the other of them to realize that the love of their life was right in front of him or her all along. Blah, blah, blah...

I don't know --- because I walked out of it, as I walked out of Solo: A Star Wars Story --- but I have the feeling that young Jack might have learned the lesson that "there are some things in life more important that fame and fortune."

Like L-O-V-E with E-L-L-I-E, his best friend who, it is revealed, has been crushing on him for twenty years. Apparently, Jack had similar feelings for her. Blah, blah, blah....

You know what would have been a better movie?

The film's gimmick seems to be a delivery device for a pretty standard "best friends each secretly pining for each other for years, who finally end up shagging" love story.

How about this instead?

The Beatles' number one fan, in 2019, Jack Malik, the president of their fan club, keeps the flame alive, blah, blah, blah... He hits his head or something, and he keeps dreaming that he is back in that era of time, as a member of The Beatles.

Each time he views himself as a different member of the group. He even sees himself as the different members, as they pursues their solo careers after the group broke up.

When he finally wakes up out of his coma, in the hospital, Jack is inspired to take up his own music career with renewed vigor, writing and singing his own songs.

Anyway, there is more I could say, but I won't.

Thank you for reading!


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