A world without The Beatles.
A horrifying thought for sure. What if John, Paul, George, and Ringo never found their calling? What would today look like without the musical progression of these “long-haired louts”? I can’t imagine what the world would be like but it would certainly be nothing like today.
The director’s image of modern life without The Beatles doesn’t go in depth about the repercussions—which would be difficult to do considering how big an influence they were on many musicians, amateur and elite, not to mention creatives in all streams, and the everyman. Maybe I’m talking them up a bit much, but you have to remember that this group was a rock and roll revolution for their time.1 Dany Boyle (Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire) did however show that the world would be incomprehensibly different by removing some of the biggest staples of Modernity.
In a world much like our own, Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) finds himself being had on by all of his friends, playing a Beatles classic ‘Yesterday’ and being praised for his inventive genius. And what would any reasonable man do in his situation? He agonises over whether he should take credit for the music, not once considering keeping it to himself. And so, Jack’s journey begins, along with his manager Ellie (Lily James) and his unlikely supporter Ed Sheeran. But fame has never been Jack’s dream and it soon becomes too much. He’s losing Ellie and if Ellie is the cost of fame, who would want to be famous?
Patel is well suited to playing Malik, the down and out musician and his pained facial expressions really make the character authentic. Malik’s struggles as a musician quickly turn around with a little help from his friends and an impressive exercise in memory, recalling every word to songs such as ‘Strawberry Fields” and “Eleanor Rigby” and revealing them to the world.
A sweet British film, Yesterday reminds us of the power and influence of music, while also showing us a side to Ed I still don’t believe. Staying reasonably true to the music minus the butchering of ‘Hey Jude’ (thanks Ed) and a change of pace, the film is a fun response to The Beatles legacy and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a easy-going and fun rom-com.
Words by Kayla Gaskell