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  • 3.5 out of 5

Yesterday - a clever "what if" film that will sweep you up but Oasis fans will be disappoi


I'm a fan of director Danny Boyle - there I've said it. From Trainspotting to Slumdog Millionaire to 28 Days Later to 127 Hours, we know that Danny Boyle can tell a gripping story. I'm not a fan of Richard Curtis - there I've said that too. I find his films a little twee and predictable. I find he uses similar tropes in his writing but he is successful and there is clearly an audience for his oeuvre. So I approached Yesterday with mixed emotions.

I need not have worried. Messers Boyle and Curtis have given use a heart-warming film with a delicious conceit at the heart of it. Yes, there are gaping plot-holes but these are easily forgiven.

Set in contemporary England, the film follows a struggling singer-songwriter named Jack Malik (played by Himesh Patel) who, after a global blackout and freak bus accident, becomes the only person on Earth to remember The Beatles. Jack launches himself to stardom by playing songs we all know like “Yesterday,” “Hey Jude,” and “Back in the USSR.” Lily James and Kate McKinnon also star, and Ed Sheeran stars as himself.

It is a wonderful conceit and Himesh Patel does a wonderful job of delivering The Beatles songs, not direct copies but his interpretations. Indeed some of the laughs derive from his inability to recall the lyrics! This is a star-turn from Patel, a career-defining role and he delivers. Lily James is wonderful. She is a magical and effortless screen presence and, although dreadfully underused, brings a likability to the "will they/won't they?" romantic plot line.

The other star turn is from Kate McKinnon who chews every piece of scenery left untended, as Jack's manager. Her almost comical, over-the-top performance reminds us that this is not reality, this is a "what if?" scenario. Kudos to her. Having said that, Joel Fry's character Rocky just grated with me. It's one of Curtis' character tropes. Watch Rocky and try not to think of Rhys Ifans' character Spike from Notting Hill.

Sanjeev Bhaskar and Meera Syal play Jack's parents and the scene where Jack tries to play them his "new" song, "Let it Be" is just comedy gold.

I've also read commentary about a sequence in the film, towards the end (you'll know it when you see it) that some have not liked. I thought it was a nice touch and helped round out the conceit. If The Beatles never existed, did John, Paul, George or Ringo ever exist as people? I liked the scene.

Oasis fans will, however be disappointed.


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