I was really looking forward to watching Yesterday. It had an interesting premise, it looked to be a good change of pace from the summer blockbusters, and it starred Lily James (current celebrity crush)! Alas, I left the cinema feeling rather disappointed with the movie. This will be a full on spoiler-filled discussion, so consider yourself warned.
The premise of the movie was intriguing enough. Jack (Himesh Patel) gets hit by a bus one night during a short global blackout, and when he wakes up again nobody knows The Beetles, or any of the songs that they wrote. As a struggling musician, Jack takes the opportunity to pass off the songs as his own, which launches him to global stardom. But this film isn't just about Jack, it's also about Ellie (Lily James), his best friend and manager who has secretly had a crush on Jack for more than half her life. Jack being the oblivious buffoon that he is, completely misses the memo, and thinks of Ellie as just a friend and his manager, which leads to some tension in their relationship later on in the film. So this film is kinda like a 2-in-1. The part where nobody knows about The Beetles is a weird mystery, while Jack and Ellie's relationship dilemma is a classic rom-com. Unfortunately, I feel like the movie fell short in both regards.
The biggest problem I have with the mystery surrounding the disappearance of The Beetles is that we never get an answer. The movie ends with the world never knowing who The Beetles were, and we never get an explanation as to how they disappeared in the first place, or why Jack is unaffected by this phenomena. We learn later on in the film that he's not the only person who still remembers The Beetles though. There are two other random characters who remember them, and they make their way to Jack to thank him for bringing their songs back into the world. Who are they and how are they connected to Jack in this mystery? We don't know. Why does everyone except these three people not know The Beetles? We don't know. What caused that global blackout at the beginning of the movie? We don't know. Why are Coke, cigarettes, and Harry Potter also missing in this seemingly alternate reality? We don't bloody know. Not having an explanation to this entire mystery is so frustrating that I feel like even the boring "it was all just a dream" cop-out would've been better (actually, probably not).
The rom-com side of the film didn't really fair that much better either. I didn't feel like Jack and Ellie had that strong of a connection. You know how some characters just seem to have so much chemistry that even watching them in a single movie is enough to get you invested in their relationship? I didn't feel that in this film. It sort of feels like, here's the leading man, and here's the leading lady, we must push them together and give them a happy ending by the film's conclusion. Supposedly the two characters have been friends for 20 years, but even though Ellie has had feelings for Jack for a long time, he never looked at her the same way. Until of course, she makes a scene before he flies off to the US, then she surprises him in a hotel in Liverpool when he came back and they almost slept together but she stopped because she didn't want to be a one night stand, then before he flies back to the US she gives him another chance to be together, but he chose to go back to the US, then he comes back to the UK to launch his album (by this time, Ellie is already dating another guy), after which he finds John Lennon (he's alive in this reality) who tells him the importance of being truthful and finding love with the right person, then, and only then, does Jack decide to give up this "fake" musical career and pursue a romantic relationship with Ellie. Really? You had to go through all of that to finally go get the girl? I just found it hard to feel invested in this relationship, and even after they got married in the end I just didn't feel like they had any chemistry.
Ultimately, I feel rather let down by the film. The mystery leaves you hanging with no explanation whatsoever, and the romantic side of the movie feels forced and unauthentic. Which is ironic given that authenticity is probably supposed to be the major takeaway from the movie. I was really hoping to like this film, but unlike The Beetles, I feel like Yesterday won't be remembered as fondly (despite Ed Sheeran's attempt to make "Hey Dude" a thing), which is a shame.