Reassuringly hagiographic for baby boomer Beatles fans, Richard Curtis’ latest rom-com is a slight musical fantasy that succeeds thanks to the warmth and likeability of its leads.
Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) is a struggling musician who’s just about ready to call time on his ambitions when he’s involved in an accident during a mysterious worldwide blackout. When he wakes up, he realises he’s the only person in the world who remembers The Beatles.
For a film so sycophantically reverent of The Beatles (it relies entirely on the idea that even a snippet of one of their songs will instantly be hailed as genius by anyone who’s never heard it before) and their impact on popular culture, it makes it abundantly apparent that the world has carried on quite nicely without them to no discernible effect. Well, that’s not true – there is one recurring gag at the expense of the Gallagher brothers although it’s a gag that also undoes the movie’s central premise.
Richard Curtis’ script is his usual blend of wit and whimsy but, outside of central pairing of Jack and Ellie (Lily James), the characters feel lifted straight from his supply of stock characters he’s used since “Four Weddings And A Funeral”. However you feel about Ed Sheeran’s music, you’ll likely be fonder of it than his acting but Himesh Patel (who does his own singing and plays his own instruments) is wonderfully charismatic and Lily James – as she did in “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again!” – proves she can elevate even the thinnest material with her effervescent presence.
“Yesterday” is a perfectly pleasant way to pass the time but I doubt it will take a global power outage and being hit by a bus to make this film forgettable.