An Englishman of Indian origin, Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) lives in a small town, works in a wholesale store warehouse and dreams of becoming a musician. Jack even has an impresario – former classmate Ellie Appleton (Lily James). However, only she believes that Jack has a future in music: let’s face it, he writes songs very so-so, so he has a very illusory chance to break out of small smoky clubs.
In the end, Jack is completely desperate, but a real miracle helps him: the Earth passed through a chrono-synclastic infundibulum, the lights on the entire planet turned off for a moment, Jack at that moment crashed into a bus on his bicycle, lost two teeth, and when he woke up, it turned out that he lives in a world without The Beatles. Well, it happened – some kind of parallel reality.
And Jack loves Beatles songs, knows Beatles songs, performs Beatles songs. And he begins to pass off the songs of the Beatles as his own. And in batches it gives out the most famous Beatles compositions of different years.
Interestingly, perhaps Jack would not have achieved worldwide success, but the very popular British artist Ed Sheeran (Ed Sheeran) draws attention to him, who takes Malik with him to perform as an opening act at a concert in Moscow, where Jack, of course, performed Back in the United States, well, after that, world fame rushed.
Of course, now the producer of Malik is not the flower girl Ellie, but the seasoned shark of show business Debra Hammer (Kate McKinnon).
Will Jack be able to withstand the temptation of fame and celebrity? Will he realize that Ellie is the love of his life and he is the love of her life? Does he admit that these are not his songs?
Unfortunately, these questions don’t bother us with the cat Bublik – that’s just not even once!
The main idea of the film – a world without the Beatles, whose songs are remembered by a single loser musician – was invented by the British writer and screenwriter Jack Bart. And he wrote a short story about it.
The film producers liked the story, and they launched the project as a potential hit: they invited Richard Curtis himself (Love Actually, Rock Wave, Future Boyfriend, Four Weddings and a Funeral) to the screenwriters, and Danny Boyle to direct (“Trans”, “Inferno”, “Slumdog Millionaire”).
Well, it all seemed to start well: the whole world without the Beatles, only Jack remembers these songs, performs them and suddenly becomes famous. So? And then – everything, stop the car. The main idea of this implementation was played in the first third of the film. What to do next? Show enthusiastic female fans ripping off their bras? So guys, Jack Malik is not Paul McCartney or John Lennon. Before their energy and drive, he is like the moon. The songs are great, but that’s about it. And the performance is like at a school party.
And what to do with all this next? And then, to our surprise with Bublik, the most ordinary melodrama unfolds. And not a melodrama of the level of “Love Actually”, but a melodrama even lower than the level of “Boyfriend from the Future”, where Curtis was clearly carried away towards molasses and sugar syrup.
And director Danny Boyle is no longer the same Boyle who shot Trainspotting. This is Danny Boyle from the days of Slumdog Millionaire: a very high-quality and professionally staged fairy tale, hard-wired for the Oscars, of which she received two buckets. At the same time, the film itself – in our humble opinion – was not at all outstanding.
Here – everything is the same. A syrupy melodrama from Curtis who has passed badly, Boyle’s professional production, but what the Beatles songs do in this film – it becomes incomprehensible after the first third of the picture.
Take such an idea and make some kind of melodrama out of it?! The great songs of the Beatles as the beginning of all this? Guys, I beg you: it was hard to imagine a cheaper development of such a potentially rich idea!
But with this it would be cool to revel! For example, that Jack would not have had any success with these songs. After all, The Beatles are a whole phenomenon. which developed gradually. The audience remembered The Beatles from the time of Love me do – well, the song is as simple as two pennies and not much remarkable. But the Beatles developed very quickly and very abruptly, and after a short period of time, real masterpieces began to appear in them. And the audience was ready for it.
To come into the world without the Beatles and immediately tighten Let It Be, and even in the performance of this loser musician, whose charisma, to be honest, the cat cried – but they would simply look at him in bewilderment and there would not be any worldwide success even nearby. By the way, in the film, just with Let It Be, they coolly beat the performance of the song by the parents, but things did not go beyond this episode.
Well, the success of this group was largely due to a certain magic of the whole four. Everyone brings something different to the group. Each song had its own specific story, was born out of something. There were a lot of external reasons that brought to life certain songs, certain albums.
No loser Jack Malik will spin this flywheel called The Beatles Universe, if you think about it, in any parallel world.
Therefore, it turned out that the world without the Beatles is just the beginning of a rather ordinary melodrama. Not the worst in the world, no, it is delivered professionally and for a certain part of the audience, as they say, it “comes in” quite well. But I, as an old Beatleman, was offended that this was created from such a powerful phenomenon …
Himesh Patel played, in my opinion, a C grade. He sang tolerantly, did not particularly shine with charisma due to its presence in homeopathic doses. He sang excellent songs, but why, excuse me, do I need The Beatles songs performed by Himesh Patel? Moreover, here, at least for a change, they did not come up with any new arrangements, any unusual performance options. (I immediately remember what Arthur Pilyavin from “Kvartal” did with the songs of “Time Machine” – it’s just a masterpiece!)
Lily James – yes, pretty, she played her role quite normally, on a four. But I liked her much more in “Mamma Mia! 2”.
But who was good here was Ed Sheeran as Ed Sheeran. Well, you know, there are such performers – they cannot play themselves in a movie. And Sheeran is very natural in front of the camera: the same Patel in his company was noticeably lost.
Comedian Kate McKinnon was fun to see as the producer shark, but her role was quite small.
Richard Curtis, of course, stuffed all sorts of “Easter eggs” and Beatleman jokes into the picture, which individually look quite funny (and let’s replace “Hey, Jude” with “Hey, Dude”), but they cannot smooth out the overall impression, as it seemed to me .
All this could have worked if the filmmakers had slightly changed the concept. They had to make a world without Justin Bieber. Jack Malik in this world begins to sing Justin Bieber songs, nightclub visitors throw glasses of beer at him, then he sings his own stupid songs – and the visitors peacefully fall asleep. He, a clear stump, does not achieve any fame, because there are no abilities, but he finds his love with Ellie, and the film’s budget becomes much smaller, because the creators do not need to pay to perform so many songs by The Beatles. And a single Justin Bieber song wouldn’t ruin them, I tell you for sure.
This is how they made a movie. Much worse than I expected. And I tell you this as a Beatleman with forty-three years of experience. I am disappointed.
PS Let me remind you the link to my “Historical Miniatures”. These are almost non-fictional stories from the life of The Beatles and the Rolling Stones. It also tells the true story of the creation of the song “Yesterday”, which Sir Paul McCartney himself told me about, bless his name.
PPS The end credits feature “Hey, Jude”, which was written by Paul McCartney to John Lennon’s son Julian during John’s divorce from Cynthia. This song, thank God, is performed by Paul himself. It had to be put at the very beginning of the film, after which the film could easily not be watched. Just advice from the Beatles.
Yesterday movie meaning
Director: Danny Boyle Cast: Vincent Franklin, Kate McKinnon, Lily James, Mira Syal, Himesh Patel, Sophie Di Martino, Ed Sheeran, Ellis Chappelle, Harry Michel, Joel Fry
Budget: $26M, Worldwide Grossing: $138M
Fantasy comedy, UK-United States-China, 2019, 116 min.