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73rd Edinburgh International Film Festival: Yesterday

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Throughout his career, Danny Boyle has shown the world just how well mainstream music and movies go together, while also sharing his impeccable music taste too. So much show, it bagged him the London Olympics of 2012 gig.

Within some of his films, Boyle has tipped his hat to the Fab Four, most notably the Abbey Road reference in Trainspotting. So it wasn’t really a surprise when his next project was announced as Yesterday – made even better with famed British screenwriter, Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral) involved.

Himesh Patel (well known for playing Tamwar Masood in EastEnders) plays Jack Malik who is hit by a bus after the world’s electricity is cut off for twelve seconds lives. Afterwards, he wakes up in a world where The Beatles never existed.

As a struggling musician on the edge of giving up, Jack takes advantage of this and decides to use the entire discography of The Beatles to become a megastar. This plot to the film kicks in surprisingly quick with the bus incident happening ten or fifteen minutes in. Before this, you don’t get to see any signs of Jack’s love for the Beatles, which seems rushed at first, but it’s redeemed later on in the film when he must remember all of their songs off by heart.

The rest of the film follows Jack steering his way through the music businesses while trying to deal with becoming the significant musician in the world. This could have been used in to critique the music business, and it does a little bit, but it’s usually for comedy rather than actually making a point about the business. Instead, Yesterday focuses on the complicated love story between Jack and his best friend Ellie (portrayed wonderfully by Lily James).

The love story is brilliant, with its many ups and downs and complications, causing the audience to be on the edge of their seats. But the best moments of the film are the ‘debut’ of some Beatles songs (most notably Let It Be and Yesterday) which genuinely send shivers down your spine – proving just how powerful The Beatles’ music truly is.

Richard Curtis is, no doubt, one of the greatest British screenwriters of all time. Possibly even the world. But in the past, he’s always written rom-coms. They’re written very well, but usually, there’s little message to it outside of the love and Yesterday shows this more than any.

This film had an opportunity to make a statement about the music industry, among many other things, but instead, decided to focus on a love story. However, the love story is wonderful. Yesterday is a love letter to the music of The Beatles and shows how much their discography still means to the world.

It takes the safe route down every avenue, but it never advertised itself as anything more than that, and as a simple, fun time at the cinema it does it wonderfully.

4/5 flicks.

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