Is Yesterday Worth Watching?

In my best Rod Serling voice. Imagine if you will waking up like every day before in your life. With a few exceptions. 1) you awake   in a hospital bed missing two teeth and your beard. A result of being hit by a bus while on your bike.  2) waking up still nowhere closer to your dream of bring a professional singer/ songwriter 3) you suddenly realize the biggest band of all time seems to be wiped from the memory of the human race . Such is the premise of the latest movie by director Danny Boyle ( Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire)

Just so you know the promise of a lot of Beatles is not enough to get to me to watch a video let alone watch a movie in the theater. I did not watch I Am Sam or Across The Universe. I will admit to watching  Robert Stigwood’s Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band  in Quad (Makati) when it came out. Yes the same one featuring The Bee Gees and Peter Frampton as the Henderson Brothers and Billy Shears.  Somehow I was able to recover from hearing A Day In Life , Carry That Weight and I Want You ( She’s So Heavy) first done by people other than the Beatles and with visuals.

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If Danny Boyle can get me to enjoy a movie where the second Obi-Wan Kenobi plays a heroin addict then I am sure he can take the aforementioned premise and make it worth my 270 pesos. Bottom line I saw it twice in one weekend. The second time was because I knew someone who I thought should see it and I was not wrong about that either. So the short answer to the question to is it worth seeing is “yes”. I will give you some reasons.  I will avoid spoilers , any surprise appearances  and  any revelation of whatever “plot ” can be found in this movie.

First of all don’t expect something like La La Land  or The Greatest Showman where people break out into song in lieu of dialogue. Just about every Beatles song is performed as an actual performance in a movie with an audience whether on stage , a recording studio or in front of friends and family.  This is the world without the Beatles so our protagonist played by Himesh Patel ( from that BBC institution EastEnders) has no access to Google the lyrics or even his record collection. All the Beatles songs live only in his mind so he has to “work them out” on his piano and guitar almost like he has to recompose them. Yes the words  to  Eleanor Rigby are quite tricky .

Patel does all the singing , guitar playing and piano playing himself and it is truly up to the viewer if he is treating these classics with love. When we meet Jack Malik, he plays every gig no matter how small using all his original material. He is managed by his best friend.  Like all of these road to fame stories he meets up with a big time California agent who offers him the “chalice ” of fame and fortune. Not really unlike the devil tempting Christ to turn stones into bread.

There is no way this movie is made without a love story. Just warning you that my idea of a great cinematic love story is True Lies.  I did enjoy the love story in Yesterday as it complimented the overall movie. Of course I admit to being charmed by Lily James. Once again let me remind you that even though there are about 17 Beatles songs scattered throughout the movie it’s not like they become part of the love story like you have seen in Mamma Mia!  or Noting Hill . None of the characters soliloquy to And I Love Her for example.  There is a bit of that fantasy element that leads to the premise of the story and it affects everything you see after. Its like the Help album  meets Groundhog Day. 

Some interesting notes about the movie as found on IMDB:

  • The surviving Beatles and the estates of the deceased Beatles gave their approval but did not try to influence the production.
  • Ana de Armas ( Blade Runner 2049) was cast but every scene she was in ended up on the cutting room floor.
  • The band Coldplay is mentioned in passing. Their singer was selected to be in the movie but his schedule would not allow him to participate.

I enjoyed Yesterday as a movie. I watched it as a Beatles fan and as a Danny Boyle fan. It works as a date movie. I enjoyed the cast, production and the music. One of the most played Beatles songs is All You Need Is Love. That is a bit how I felt about this movie. Made with love, care  and talent. It did not feel it was exploitative of the Beatles great catalog.   “… and with a love like that you know you should be glad.” 

16 Replies to “Is Yesterday Worth Watching?”

  1. “Yesterday” was written and composed by the “Beatle’s” , Paul Mc. Cartney…There are only two remaining “Beatles” left: Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.

    I am a fan of “Star War” movies. It may be Science Fiction. But, it is good to see the movies. I love the Jedi episodes. The bumbling Robots…I am amazed by the power of the Phasers; the “faster that the speed of light” transports. The use of mind to control things…

    It is good sometimes to dream, for the future of mankind and of this world !

  2. I’ve seen this one last week. The plot is convoluted, only the songs make it interesting. The movie was paced moderately well, but in the end of the movie – everything did not went back to normal. The story was unfinished!

    1. Sometimes we have expectations that we can barely articulate. It then affects what we take in. It is possible you were expecting something like Groundhog Day where Phil inexplicably gets caught in the same day over and over again. Eventually that day ends and things go back to “normal” except he earned the Andie MacDowell character.

      This movie at its core is a fantasy. A blip happened like in Infinity Wars but there were no time travelling Avengers to undo the blip in this movie. Life went on from there. The new normal . That is the structure of Yesterday. That was a disruption in the space-time continuum that forever changed the destiny of that world.

      Can I open your mind to another possibility? That freak incident transported the consciousness of the protagonist to his self in a different dimension. That dimension had the identical 12 second incident . It also had those things that just never were as mentioned in the movie. His friends, his family and that hotel all exist as is in the different dimension.

      Since you had me revisit the movie in my mind , I do what to point out a goof in that 12 second incident. It is not night simultaneously around the world. Some places it is day time. We saw Citi Field in New York, Moscow and some news anchor desk in what I presume was either Japan or Korea. Thank you for your viewpoint and I would be happy to discuss this movie further in this space.

    1. I knew I was old when I didn’t care to be relevant to people 20 plus years younger than I was. In the last year I wrote about Bohemian Rhapsody and other things about music. I also made assumptions what I believe to be blind spots of millennials. We can also ask the question how many millennials ever heard music from a record or cassette? Oddly enough the protagonist in the movie is a millennial and for some reason has a ton of vinyl records. Maybe he inherited them or something.

    1. You might be talking about Lenin, he was a communist!

      Perhaps, with the absence of any evidence, you’re just assuming that he is because of his song ‘Imagine’, but, he’s not one actually.

      Here’s John Lennon, in his own words:

      “‘Imagine’, which says: ‘Imagine that there was no more religion, no more country, no more politics,’ is virtually the Communist Manifesto, even though I’m not particularly a Communist and I do not belong to any movement.

      “There is no real Communist state in the world; you must realize that. The Socialism I speak about … [is] not the way some daft Russian might do it, or the Chinese might do it. That might suit them. Us, we should have a nice … British Socialism.”

      This habit of assuming also fell on Atheist author Richard Dawkins when embraced it as an “atheist anthem”, even though Lennon himself stated that his song “did not discourage faith”.

  3. You should ask all Pilipino what communism/socialism is even those in Britain and you will have the conclusion of what they think about it, ” only a dead communist is a good communist” and since John Lennon is dead, he was now a good communist. I guess that’s why he was been under surveillance by the FBI, like what they did to that guy Einstein who was a socialist threat because he invented the atomic bomb.

    1. Ms. Sarda, if you please, you can either be a hero, a martyr or even a GRP blogger saint, but then again this habit of assuming, unknowingly, only creates fake news. Einstein was/is not the inventor of the atomic bomb!

      The development of this weapon of mass destruction was not a one-man project. Even J. Robert Oppenheimer, an American theoretical physicist, regarded as the “father of the atomic bomb”, was not the sole inventor either. More accurately, the credit actually belongs to the collective scientific team in the Manhattan Project which he lead. Its invention was the result of the collaboration among his team members, many of which were exiles from Europe.

      Albert Einstein’s only involvement in its development was to sign a letter, convinced, upon the prodding of comrades Physicists Eugene Wigner and Leo Szilard (at the time, Germany had managed to split the uranium atom and was already working on an atomic bomb), urging the U.S. to develop the bomb, a decision he, as a pacifist, had great regrets about.

      As for John Lennon being a commie, whether in life or in death, good or bad, it’s not up to every one’s conclusion of opinion(s). He already said what he said and would probably think, “nothing’s gonna change my world”.

        1. Albert Einstein’s Law of Relativity was an inspiration to the creation of Atomic Bomb & the advent of Nuclear Age in our world. Imagine without that then Hiroshima & Nagasaki would be spared from the atom bomb & nuclear power plants will not exist today which is an alternative to the use of fossil fuels in spite of the Three Mile Island, Chernobyl & Fukushima nuclear power plant disasters.

      1. Prof. Albert Einstein, was the Theoretical Physicist, who formulated the , “Theory of Relativity” He was also instrumental in formulating the E = MC 2 formula…that is : Energy is equal to the Mass multiplied by the Speed of light raised into square…

        Einstein also formulated the theory of time and space; his theory of relativity…is very important. He worked also on photons, and other theories that are instrumental in the inventions of new products, we are enjoying now…

        Thru the E = M x by the square of C formula…they were able to make the atomic bomb…and ushered us into the nuclear age. The “Manhattan Project” , was the most successful project, that helped in the victory of the Allies, against the Axis, in World War II.

        There were many scientists who were working on the atomic bomb. Some were former Nazi Germany scientists. But, the Americans with the team work of. foreign scientists who were refugees in America, were the ones who produced, and were successful in exploding/testing the first Atomic Bomb…Prof. Einstein was a German Jew, and was a former German scientist, who took refuge in America…

        The atomic era is both a Curse and a Blessing to mankind . Nobody will survive a nuclear war in our times !

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