3 Stars – Thoughtful
Yesterday is a charming tale about a young struggling musician that, following an accident, finds himself in an alternate universe where no one knows the musical group, The Beatles. Combining humor and ethical struggle, Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) has to navigate the questions of whether this special knowledge is the key to his future success, or the stumbling block that will lead to his destruction and unhappiness.
Jack Malik has struggled for years in suburban England playing clubs with little success. His friends love him, as does his School Teacher/Manager Ellie Appleton (Lily James), but that is the full consist of his following. Then, one night at the moment where all of Europe suddenly experiences an electrical blackout, Jack is struck by a bus and ends up in the hospital bruised and broken. For Jack, this is the end of his dream to become a musical artist, and he is filled with regret and self-pity. When his friends try to cheer him up and ask him to sing a song, he decides to sing a lament, and settles on the Beatles classic, “Yesterday.”
Needless to say, everyone is blown away at the simple beauty of the music and lyrics. “Where from the depths of your soul did this treasure come,” they all ask? Jack, thinking this is a joke, laughs right up to the point when he finally realizes that none of them know who the Beatles are. When he returns to his room, he does a computer search on the Beatles and nothing comes up. He looks through his record collection for all of his Beatles albums, and none are there. How can this be?
Without giving away the whole story, the comedy and pathos that follows brings out the best and the worst in people. He sings all of the Beatles songs that he knows and very soon he attracts international attention. Fellow British song writer and musical artist Ed Sheeran shows up on his doorstep and declares Jack to be one of the greatest song writers of his generation. Overnight he becomes a celebrity sensation and everyone who wants to make money off his talent beats a path to his door. In hilarious fashion, Hollywood tries to seduce him with every temptation at its disposal.
Jack is stunned that no one really knows anything about the Beatles, but there are other things that others don’t know about either. When he orders a Coke to drink, the hostess thinks he wants drugs. This quark of fate has not left him happy, but rather lonely. His real test is to discover what is of greatest importance in his life.
At a point of despondency, Jack is given a message from a stranger who seems to know what he is going through. He is led to a surprise visit with an old man in the country named John who, as it turns out, knows more about the Beatles than anyone else alive. His only advice is to always tell the truth.
The conclusion of the story has a happy ending with a good moral lesson that help Jack realize what is most important in his life. The world never comes to know who the Beatles are, but the music itself is timeless, and so is the message of Yesterday.
1. If you were to suddenly find yourself in an alternate universe that misses only one thing from this world, what would you miss most? What would help you the most?
2. The problem with appropriating someone else’s creation as your own is that you, of all people, know you are a fake. What do you think that would do to you?