Richard Curtis, the scribe behind such perennial audience pleasing films as Notting Hill, Four Weddings and A Funeral and Love Actually, is back with his latest concoction, Yesterday. This time he’s paired with director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting) and it’s a good match for Curtis’s material which, as usual, blends humor and pathos in equal doses. The good news is that those who have responded strongly in the past to the writer’s sensibilities will likely find themselves enjoying this one as well. Curtis’s work may not be for all tastes but for those who get enjoy what he does this one delivers the goods.
The film’s premise is one of those that’s likely to give pause to struggling screenwriters and make them say to themselves, ‘Hey, why didn’t I think of that?’ The thing to note, though, is that a unique premise and a well-crafted screenplay are opposite sides of the same coin. Curtis has an uncanny knack for both cooking up interesting premises and delivering them satisfactorily as a general rule. That’s certainly one of the essential elements that serves to make Yesterday as enjoyable as it is for those who manage to get on its wavelength, myself included.
Yesterday is being described as a fairy tale of the musical variety, a claim that’s accurate enough I suppose. The film centers around the character of Jack Malik, a British-Indian musician in his late twenties who has yet to make it and realizes that time is not on his side. There usually comes a point when, if you haven’t made it by a certain age, serious questions must be asked of one’s self. Jack is fast approaching that point and sooner rather than later.
At a fortuitous moment for Jack there’s a blackout all over the world. It only lasts a matter of seconds but in that amount of time the world as we know it is replaced by a world in which The Beatles never existed. Jack doesn’t realize this until he chances to pick up his guitar and play the iconic Beatles tune Yesterday for his friends who are quite moved by the beauty of the song upon hearing it for the first time. Sensing a good thing when he stumbles upon it, Jack decides to take the Beatles catalogue and pass it off as his own and, of course, finding the success of which he’s always dreamed.
If there’s a complaint to be lodged against the film, I would say that I wish the filmmakers had opted to mix some of the lesser known Beatles tracks alongside the more well-known numbers that populate the soundtrack. This probably won’t be a problem for younger fans though who will enjoy this one just fine. All in all, Yesterday is an enjoyable, if a bit slight, time at the movies.
Yesterday is playing everywhere.
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