If you’re looking for a nice and fun film that you will leave feeling content, Yesterday is a good bet. This would be your cookie cutter rom com were it not for the core premise: a man bringing the music of The Beatles to a world where he’s the only person who remembers them. There are very few people across the globe who wouldn’t be charmed by a story that starts there, and this movie is full of charm.
The leads are impossible not to love; one played by Himesh Patel, whom Danny Boyle quite rightly said had a certain soulfulness in him that made him a perfect choice, and Lily James, who is Lily James and therefore impossible not to love. There’s lots of opportunities for these characters to do something unlikeable in the film, but it never happens. Any wrong step they make feels entirely forgivable. All their decisions are full of heart and true to the characters and their story. The level of nice-ness of some characters is almost cartoonish at some points, so it’s quite impressive that they managed to maintain any conflict.
The story itself poses lots of moral questions as well as lots of just… questions. With The Beatles having such a colossal impact on the world, the filmmakers basically had free reign on choosing the consequences. They were relatively restrained, which works in the films favour as very little of the story they’ve chosen to tell is about The Beatles. Some of the most powerful moments in the movie are though. Bits that truly touch your heart do so because of the true passion so many of us share for not just the music of The Beatles, but the people themselves. I don’t want to share my favourite bit of the film here, because it would spoil a lot of the tension, but it involved the recognition of how much the music is loved, and how much it is valued.
Honestly, this movie is a fairly cliche tale of the sudden discovery of fame throwing the moral code and relationships of someone into chaos. I’m willing to admit that if it weren’t for my investment in The Beatles it might not feel special at all. But it does feel special, and it never does a disservice to The Beatles. It’s just a nice story, that will leave you smiling.