This is a Richard Curtis penned film, and that's immediately enough to put a tranche of movie-goers off. All his movies have an accent on the uplifting, the positive and/or the whimsical, and I can understand why that winds some people up. If "Richard-Curtissy" was an adjective, and I think it should be, many of these films can be so classified.
Here, although again very Richard-Curtissy, I think he gets the mixture JUST RIGHT.... "Yesterday", for me, was a complete joy from beginning to end.
I imagine Curtis getting this story from a rowdy dinner party round his gaff. He asks his guests, over the third bottle of dessert wine, to play a wild and fantastical "what if" game (in pursuit of the "very good" spare brownie of course). At this particular event, I guess it was co-story-author Jack Barth (in his movie-writing debut) that made the successful attempt to "hog the brownie". For the premise of "Yesterday" is quite brilliant, whilst at the same time being utterly bonkers too!
That being said, the story is not completely original. I thought there were many similarities to the Ricky Gervais vehicle of 2009, "The Invention of Lying", where Gervais alone finds he suddenly has the ability to tell lies, and finds ill-gotten fortune and fame as a result. Much like that earlier film, much of the joy here is in the recognition of the gift given and the dawning realisation of what this might actually mean to him. As such, I found the first half of the film a lot more enjoyable than the second.
The conundrum facing Jack is to remeber all of the Beatles songs and their lyrics (without having Google as a reference), and much fun is had with him stumbling into situations that suddenly remind him of a new track or a particular snatch of lyric.
There is of course an obvious explanation for the whacky storyline, since the hero has received a potentially serious head injury. But would the film go there? (No spoilers here).
Himesh Patel is from TV's "Eastenders" but here makes his movie debut. He is perfectly cast as Jack Malik: in the film, he's a name about to rise from utter obscurity as a Lowestoft retail assistant to global superstardom. Patel is charming and believable as he squirms with his conscience. A surprising and touching beach scene in the final reel of the film is exquisitely acted.
The ever-watchable and utterly gorgeous Lily James here goes brunette: she was actually unrecognisable to me from both the trailer and the poster! Here she makes a very believable high-school teacher with a side-line in management and roadie-ing.
I found Ed Sheeran's cameo in "Bridget Jones Baby" to be excruciating! But here, in what is quite an extensive part, he is much, much better. I think he's been getting lessons.
One of the slight disappointments with the film is that it is a Danny Boyle film that doesn't FEEL like a Danny Boyle film. Aside from some inventive on-screen titles, I didn't detect much of the stylisation that I would expect from one of his films. Yes, there are occasional flashes of genius - for example, the scenes where Malik is desperately trying to remember the lyrics of Eleanor Rigby, and those of him watching, big screen, his own social-media led rise to super stardom. But otherwise, the visuals and storyline are pretty linear in nature.
Although there are cloyingly gooey bits of this film, the element that weaves it all together - such that "all is forgiven" in my book - is the magical music and lyrics of McCartney, Lennon and Harrison.
Was there a better year to be born that 1961? (Well, possibly the mid- to late- 50's so you were old enough to remember more of it). But although only a child aged between two and nine during their album releases, I felt the benefit of three older siblings who WERE able to fully embrace Beatlemania. And the film delights with its modern day recreations of the classic tracks and, as already mentioned, Himesh Patel belts them out wonderfully (especially, I thought, with "Help!").
I can't not give this one 10 stars. I simply loved it, and can't wait for its general release (in the UK, on June 28th 2019) so I can go and love it all over again. Is it technically a 10-star film? Possibly not, but sometimes you just have to go with the way a film makes you feel, not just as you walk, whistling, out of the cinema but for the whole of the next 48 hours and (I suspect) longer. In summary, he loves it. "Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeeeeeaaaaaah".
(This is an edited version. The full graphical review is available on "One Mann's Movies" on t'internet or Facebook. Please consider checking it out. Thanks!)