Yesterday presents itself as a simple yet slick gimmick on top of one of the world's best song catalogs. What if you were the only one that remembered the Beetles and the spectacular songwriting that made them the most successful and influential bands in history?
The premise and the songs alone are well worth the price of admission but we also get a sweet love story with some very interesting and memorable characters.
When we meet Jack Malik, he's a struggling musician that has just about given up on his dream of making it as a singer-songwriter. Ellie, his best friend and manager, does what she can to convince him to keep trying, but it is obvious that, barring a miracle, it isn't going to happen.
Jack is literally hit by a bus during a global power outage. When he regains consciousness he has lots of bumps and bruises and is missing a few teeth but that's a small price to pay for his new found gift.
The story doesn't go into the details of whether Jack was an accomplished performer of Beetle's tunes before the accident but when he receives a shiny new acoustic guitar from Ellie, he breaks into a nicely stripped down version of the signature song… and Jack's friends all think it is an original.
A fun little unexpected side thread is the fact that there is no reference material. No recordings, no sheet music, no YouTube concerts. Jack is on his own with just his memories when it comes to recreating the songs.
We also come to understand that Jack may not be the only one to remember - a man and a women with somewhat menacing expressions are shown in the audience of several of Jack's concerts.
Through a string of concerts and recording sessions we see Jack's rise to international stardom while he struggles with the morality of his misrepresentation. It all gets wrapped up in a nice, neat bow.
In addition to strong performances from both Himesh Patel and Lily James in the starring roles, Kate McKinnon gives a pretty good, if over the top impression of a sleazy record company executive trying to exploit her recording artist. Rocky (Joel Fry) is the roadie that sticks with Jack throughout his journey. Though he starts off as a caricature of a stoner looser he builds his way into the role of a real friend that does his best to help Jack navigate his fame and his relationship with Ellie.
In some interesting small twists we learn that the Beetles aren't the only pop culture phenomenon or brand that got 'lost' but these are fun to discover along the way with Jack.