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Richard Curtis is one of the few screenwriters left that can genuinely craft an original idea and get the funding to make it. His romantic comedies of the 90s and the early 2000s were impactful for their unique concepts and refreshing humor. The British writer/director officially retired from directing in About Time (2013), but his newest screenplay has been partnered up with director Danny Boyle to make Yesterday (2019).

Yesterday is the story of Jack Malik (Himesh Patel), a down on his luck musician who after a worldwide blackout becomes the only person in the world that remembers The Beatles and their songs. Malik decides to exploit this curious alternate reality and begins to pass off the Beatle’s songs for his own, catapulting him into stardom.

Curtis reportedly claimed that the inspiration for this movie came from wanting to showcase the genius of the Beatles to a younger generation that may not have as deep an understanding of the phenomenon as older listeners. Curtis and Boyle are not only able to craft an intriguing vehicle for Beatles songs, but they craft a magnetic romance around it too. Boyle, meanwhile, adds his creative and unique editing choices that add to the quirky world of Malik.

In the end, Curtis and Boyle are able to give Yesterday a tone in line with the themes of the Beatles’ catalogue of love, simplicity, and enjoyment. While there is the showcase of the chance for the showering of money and fame, there is a lingering question left of whether it really is worth it. While many musical biopics look at the rise and danger of stardom, they never really propose another choice, Yesterday debates that line; between simply enjoying music for what it is or utilizing it for materialistic gain.

Himesh Patel makes his mainstream debut in Yesterday and proves to be a charming performer. He certainly fits well with the insecure Curtis protagonist, and his pairing with Lily James, who plays his early manager, is an accurate one, giving both actors a heightened charm and likeability. James seems to have been cornered as an actress into the: charming girl role, and while she’s brilliant at it, it does make me wonder what else she can do; there certainly seems to be untapped potential simmering beneath.

In the end, Yesterday is a solid entry for Richard Curtis, it’s original concept is enough to carry it through more conventional structures of its storytelling. The fun film makes it easy to understand why Boyle left the next James Bond film for this instead; simply being able to experience the great songs is enough of a reason to go and enjoy this film.



About Young Critic

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I've been writing on different version of this website since February of 2013. I originally founded the website in a film-buff phase in high school, but it has since continued through college and into my adult life. Young Critic may be getting older, but the love and passion for film is forever young. 

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