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Yesterday

Started by Slim, July 05, 2021, 00:27:02 AM

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Like millions of other viewers I'm sure, I watched the TV premiere of Yesterday this evening. If I wasn't on holiday my attention span probably wouldn't have stretched to watching this, quite honestly - too many other distractions at home - but I did enjoy it, so it's good timing.

If you're not aware of it, it's a sort of alternative universe fantasy in which a young, failing singer-songwriter called Jack Malik is somehow propelled into an alternative timeline in which The Beatles never existed. But he knows all their songs, or at least enough of them, so he manages to propel himself to global superstardom by passing them off as his own.

It's a Danny Boyle film but written by Richard Curtis, so there's also a completely predictable rom-com story arc in it. But I must say I liked Curtis' lightness of touch; the easy sentimentality, the light humour. The caricature of a Los Angeles record executive (played by Kate McKinnon) is especially amusing, and very well performed.

There's a very touching scene toward the end of the film in which the young performer meets John Lennon. In this unreal universe Lennon was never famous and therefore never shot dead in New York. Whether by prosthetics, CGI or sheer good fortune the guy who plays Lennon is really scarily like him.

It's easy to find faults with this film. My own view is that a world in which The Beatles never existed would be dramatically different than the present day we know. It wouldn't just be a world culturally identical to ours but without Beatles music, Oasis and (for reasons which are not explored), Harry Potter. Also - without the charisma, chemistry and charm of the Fab Four; without the contribution made by George Martin; without their particular resonance against the soundboard of the prevailing popular culture of the 1960s, would those songs really propel a performer to stardom? Maybe. Maybe not.

Ed Sheeran appears as himself, and I have to say - he does a really good job. Very natural performance. There's an awkward scene in which Ed and Jack have an impromptu songwriting competition, and Jack pulls The Long And Winding Road out of the hat. Patel conveys the shame and embarrassment of beating Ed with someone else's work very well.

It's noticeable actually that most of the songs referenced in the film are McCartney songs. I wonder if Paul's co-operation was solicited for this?

Biggest complaint: I expected a resolution to the film in which the world is somehow restored to normal, and everybody has heard of The Beatles. The sci-fi fan in me wanted to know what happened, to alter the timeline of the Universe. But this is not explored.

Still - an enjoyable, lightweight, romantic, fun film. I liked it a lot.

July 05, 2021, 09:16:03 AM #1 Last Edit: July 05, 2021, 09:20:26 AM by DavidL
Predictably progressive messaging wrapped up in a formulaic Curtis caper. Quite enjoyable nevertheless.

Think it was Robert Carlyle who played the Lennon part
From the Land of Honest Men.

Interesting thought that the film has a progressive message, I didn't get that from it and I'm fairly sensitive to that sort of thing. It does have an interracial relationship, but I've been in several of those and never really thought of myself as flying a flag for progressive attitudes.

Actually the more I think about it the more I think that someone of a "progressive" mindset might be annoyed by it. I recall that a few months someone criticised Luther, the BBC drama with Idris Elba because they felt that the titular character wasn't black enough. I think they expected the viewers to see him eating Caribbean food, listening to reggae and so on.

And similarly in Yesterday there's not even a hint of Indian culture on show, unless I've forgotten something. Jack plays and appreciates Western-style music. None of his friends that we see are Asian. His mum and dad (delightfully portrayed by Sanjeev Bhaskar and Meera Syal) have a friend come round, and it's a white bloke.

The other prominent ethnic minority character is portrayed as being a bit thick and unreliable. Actually I'd say that this film could almost have been designed to annoy people of a progressive persuasion.

I suspect Richard Curtis wrote the script without an ethnic minority character in mind, and they just happened to cast Himesh Patel in the role, which is fair enough. The guy acts well, he's charismatic and he can sing and play guitar.


QuoteAnd similarly in Yesterday there's not even a hint of Indian culture on show, unless I've forgotten something. 
Exactly, that's the point. Integration....innit  ;D


QuoteNorman Tebbit would be proud of this film.


If the narrative was indicative of a prevalent mood, he possibly would be......and??


You know what would have been a nice touch in this film? If Paul McCartney had played himself, in the world where he was never famous. Maybe Pete Best as well. Perhaps we could see them having a quiet drink together, two retired civil servants in the corner of some pub in Liverpool.


QuoteIf the narrative was indicative of a prevalent mood, he possibly would be......and??

Not sure I understand what you're saying here, but you made a point that the film expressed a progressive message because it showed an ethnic minority family being integrated into British culture.

But Norman Tebbit was overtly a supporter of that, therefore it's not really a progressive idea.

QuoteYou know what would have been a nice touch in this film? If Paul McCartney had played himself, in the world where he was never famous. Maybe Pete Best as well. Perhaps we could see them having a quiet drink together, two retired civil servants in the corner of some pub in Liverpool.
As a well-known "tight bastard" , McCartney probably wasn't offered enough to be part of this ;D