Film Review – YESTERDAY (2019)

YESTERDAY (2019, UK) ***
Romance, Music, Fantasy
dist. Universal Pictures; pr co. Etalon Film / Working Title Films; d. Danny Boyle; w. Richard Curtis (based on a story by Richard Curtis and Jack Barth); pr. Bernard Bellew, Tim Bevan, Danny Boyle, Richard Curtis, Eric Fellner, Matthew James Wilkinson; ph. Christopher Ross (Colour. D-Cinema (Digital Cinema Package DCP) (also Dolby Atmos version), DCP (CGS version) (also Dolby Atmos version), DCP (Dolby Vision + Atmos). CGS (CGS version),Digital Intermediate, Digital Intermediate (4K) (master format), Dolby Vision, Redcode RAW (8K) (source format). 2.39:1); m. Daniel Pemberton; ed. Jon Harris; pd. Patrick Rolfe, Moin Uddin; ad. James Wakefield; rel. 4 May 2019 (USA), 20 June 2019 (UK); BBFC cert: 12; r/t. 116m.
cast: Himesh Patel (Jack Malik), Lily James (Ellie Appleton), Joel Fry (Rocky), Ed Sheeran (Ed Sheeran), Kate McKinnon (Debra Hammer), Sanjeev Bhaskar (Jed Malik), Meera Syal (Sheila Malik), Harry Michell (Nick), Sophia Di Martino (Carol), Ellise Chappell (Lucy), Justin Edwards (Leo (Russian Stranger)), Sarah Lancashire (Liz (Liverpool Stranger)), Alexander Arnold (Gavin), Lamorne Morris (Head of Marketing), Vincent Franklin (Brian), Karl Theobald (Terry), Camilla Rutherford (Hilary), Michael Kiwanuka (Michael Kiwanuka), James Corden (James Corden), Robert Carlyle (John Lennon (uncredited)).
Patel gives a winning performance as a struggling musician who is involved in a road accident and wakes up to find no-one has heard of The Beatles. Seeing his opportunity, he uses their songs to bring him success but along the way reconciles his newfound stardom with the loss of his keenest supporter from prior to the accident (James). This is Richard Curtis by-the-numbers, but despite its predictability and lack of depth there is much to like. Patel’s self-effacing and unlikely musician is a character the audience can care about as is James as his childhood sweetheart. Sheeran is game in a large support role and McKinnon is the epitome of corporate greed. Where Curtis misses the mark as a writer is in his lack of willingness to explore the frankly manipulative premise to its fullest potential, making it feel like the gimmick it is to hang familiar romcom tropes from. Boyle directs anonymously and lets the characters breathe and the feelgood factor is high. The songs are ultimately what we remember the most and they are, of course, outstanding.