01st Jul2019

‘Yesterday’ Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Himesh Patel, Lily James, Sophia Di Martino, Ellise Chappell, Meera Syal, Harry Michell, Vincent Franklin, Joel Fry | Written by Richard Curtis | Directed by Danny Boyle


Yesterday is the latest film from the visionary mind of director Danny Boyle and acclaimed writer Richard Curtis. It stars Himesh Patel as struggling musician Jack Malik who, on the premature eve of his own self retirement from the singer/songwriter craft to the disappointment of his manager (Lily James), is involved in an accident that knocks him out cold and by coincidence all the memory of The Beatles throughout history for everyone aside from Jack. What commences is a meteoric rise of Malik who in the wake of no John, Paul, Ringo and George, takes the mantel himself and travels on a far greater and prosperous journey than he ever could expect.

By no means is it the best work from Boyle, who flourishes far greater in the adult-oriented material such as Trainspotting, Trance and The Beach, however, he is a director with great range and Yesterday showcases such extensive talent with a perfect blend of melancholic bliss and captivating drama. However the film lacks the stylish aesthetic employed in previous films of the director. The flair and slick editing are mostly restrained, and aside from a few and far between obtuse shots from cinematographer Christopher Ross, Boyle’s film is visually bland. That being said the dramatic tendencies and weight of the picture are rich and layered, exploited perfectly by Boyle, wonderfully implemented from the two marvellous lead performances of Himesh Patel and Lilly James.

The latter puts forward a terrific turn as Ellie Appleton. A character who on paper is a simplistic one-note plot device written by Richard Curtis but elevated in a captivating turn of emotional plight by Lilly James, who commands the screen whenever utilised. James superbly supplies intense and compelling emotional weight into proceedings. She harbours this utterly spellbinding screen presence that dazzles on screen. Thankfully so in fact, otherwise the film would falter and collapse without any dense dashing of passionate resonating engagement. Malik’s parents, played by Meera Syal and Sanjeev Bhaskar, don’t particularly add much aside from blatantly heavy comic relief and it becomes overly diluted and lacklustre in terms of adding upon the plight that Patel’s Malik harbours. Malik suffices with how he internally evokes his characters disposition and he showcases some enthralling range throughout, undoubtedly cementing himself as one to most certainly watch.

It’s the screenplay from Richard Curtis that ultimately dampens the overall feature – it’s far too fluffy and sickly for its own good at times. There are moments sprinkled within that are stunning, in particular, a certain cameo that is exceptionally handled. Yet, Curtis struggles with exactly what narrative to provide. The climax exercised struggles to land with a strange and unconventional finale, which to its credit is an original decision but confuses more so than it provides closure. There are threads and arcs that are never explored nor explained efficiently. Not side steps to the overall plot either, but integral elements that are forgotten and ignored. Especially that of certain gags that miss more so than hit, due to the films decision to never internally explore such.

Yesterday in in UK cinemas now.


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