Yesterday ★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Ok. If you know me, you know how huge of a role The Beatles play as an influence in my life. If you don’t, I’ll try getting the image across through the following true statement, “my Bar Mitzvah was Beatles themed.” That being said, when I saw the trailer for Yesterday, I was very excited. After all, I thought (and still think) it was a pretty brilliant and intriguing idea, that I myself have actually dreamed about in the past. Unfortunately, I found this film mediocre at best. Yesterday was charming. It was a great idea, some good jokes, and of course, great music (or at least covers of some great music). But it had some MAJOR issues in my opinion. Spoilers ahead…. You have been warned.

In the film and writing classes I have taken, I have learned a lot of the key elements of script writing. The number one rule is that in a film, the plot should not push the characters, the characters should push the plot. Unfortunately for Yesterday, if found that the characters only made decisions to satisfy the plot, rather than having the plot be influenced by the characters and their decisions. For example, it is made known in the beginning of the film the the band Oasis also has been erased from humanity’s memories. This is sad for Jack, considering the first song he sang on stage as a kid (also being the spark in his and Ellie’s relationship) was Wonderwall by Oasis. Later in the film, after Ellie leaves him because she doesn’t want to have a one night stand with him, he crashes on his bed, and remembers back to when he song Wonderwall infort of his school, and how it connected Ellie and himself. We also know that Ellie is upset that Jack “wrote” a whole bunch of love songs, but none of them are about her since she is “in the friend zone.” So, when he wakes up the next morning, and rushes to catch her before she gets on her train to leave the city, all signs were building up to him singing Wonderwall in the middle of the train station to her, and telling her that he wrote it for her. That is what the character who was set top WOULD have done in this particular situation. But he didn’t, because that’s not what the PLOT called for. In terms of the plot, Jack was not yet truly “famous” yet, and he still hadn’t officially ”lost the girl” either. In order for the plot to last another hour, he needed to do both of these things. If he had sang her Wonderwall, she would have forgiven him, and they would have run away together or something. I know this, because those are the characters the film set up. But instead, Jack sits infant of her and completely loses his words. Instead, he sits there and lets her leave him, which was out of character for Jack. That is the difference between characters pushing a plot, and plot pushing the characters.

Another sloppy decision I found, is regarding that hotel Jack plays a concert at. When Jack picks the hotel roof as his concert location, its made out to be like us, the audience, understands why he chose that venue. But being that it was the first mention of it, I found no emotional connection to the venue besides the fact that “Jack was playing on a roof just like how The Beatles did that one time in a different location.” It isn’t until after the concert, that Jack has a flashback to when he was still just starting out, and him and Ellie showed up there for a concert, even though it had apparently been closed for three weeks. Why was this scene not in the beginning of the film when Jack was actually struggling? Its not a “film length” issue. The same exact scene could have been played in the beginning of the film (probably right before his biking accident) rather than where it ended up, and the film’s length would have been exactly the same. If this scene had been shown earlier, our emotional understanding of the venue would have been a lot stronger when Jack ultimately decides to play his album there for the first time. It would have been an emotional callback to earlier in the film, rather than a puzzle with a missing piece.

Look, I could keep going into much further detail about how the two other people who remembered The Beatles were ultimately pointless, how unrealistic it was when Ellie called up Jack just to tell him she was dating someone else, or how easy everything fell into Jack’s lap, especially the at the end when his parents, Ellie, her boyfriend, and their friends from home all happened to be at the same Ed Sheeran concert Jack made a spur of the moment, surprise appearance at in the end of the film. But instead of going into detail, I’ll leave at this. As a Beatles fan, I would say to go see it. If anything, it is a nice tribute to The Beatles catalog, while still having some nice laughs along the way. But if I’m being completely honest, the only reason I stayed to the end of the credits instead of immediately leaving when the film faded to black, was because the ACTUAL version of Hey Jude was playing, and I thought it would be rude to Paul, John, George, and Ringo to leave during the middle of their song. I give Yesterday a 1.5/5 stars. 

Did you see Yesterday? What did you think? Let me know!

See you later,
-Jacob Hirsch

And for the record, the message of the film, “The life is a better place with The Beatles music in it” is completely true, so I give the movie props for acknowledging that.