Great in ambition, albeit modest in achievement, Yesterday sets for itself the apparently impossible task of making an out-of-this-world idea – what things would be like if almost no one remembered the Beatles – immediately interesting and applicable to the ordinary life of the everyday.
The story opens on an amateur musician circling the drain of failure who gets hit by a bus at the precise moment the world around him changes. He wakes up in the hospital to find most everything as it was, except that no one else seems to remember Coca Cola or certain other popular cultural phenomena – most pertinent among these, the music of the Fab Four.
When he grasps that he has the opportunity to introduce humanity to what he remembers was one of its most wildly successful pop musical repertoires, his fame and fortune would seem to be made. The penny drops, and shortly after, “his” first few singles, and with these, monetary prospects in the millions.
The story that follows strikes all the right notes: jubilant “re-”discoveries of classic hits, cold sweats following close shaves of nearly getting outed, tensions attendant upon flying high or keeping hold of one’s roots. The music is great, the girl is beautiful, and the several tongue-in-cheek cameos by Ed Sheeran make for good fun.
Somehow, however, a film that would seem to have everything going for it does not seem quite certain of where it is going.
Is it a homage to the greatness of the Beatles and how the world is better for their songs, regardless of who sings them? A lesson about the cost of dishonesty, if not in every case professionally then certainly personally? A testimony to the beautiful solidity of everyday affections, as against the beautiful ephemerality of renown?
Each of these themes and more get a nod. While the result is engaging enough to prevent any nodding in the audience, it is not quite punchy, accomplished, or imaginative enough to rise to the level of its central grand idea.
Relevant in this connection, perhaps, is a moment when the protagonist slips in amongst his plagiarized demos an original song of his own. This ends up the only single of the bunch that his evisceratingly direct-speaking Los Angeles agent – played with panache by a characteristically offbeat Kate McKinnon – chooses to axe. It is his only song she hates, she tells him, but it is also not interesting enough to warrant another listen to figure out why.
Part of the explanation, perhaps, might be one of the pitfalls intrinsic to the high-concept story. Somehow, it must remain true to its original brilliantly bold and counterfactual idea while also inducting its viewers into insights that are perennially true and pertinent to all.
A fitting tribute, perhaps, to the humble and often thankless task of admiring and channelling another’s genius, Yesterday does well to launch us into the stratosphere of the Beatles’ celestially joyful music, but in the end may not itself achieve success for failing to bring us back to earth.
Charming action figures prove toys' story still relevant
Amazingly, the newly released fourth film from the Pixar Toy Story franchise maintains and even exceeds the quality of the...
Religions may be similar, but Catholicism is unique
15th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C First Reading: Dt 30:10-14 Second Reading: Col 1:15-20 Gospel Reading: Lk 10:25-37 ...
Regaining the courage to speak
Do you ever feel like you’re living in an alternate universe? If so, you can probably sympathize with Vancouver Councillor...
Our immigrant stories need retelling
Canada Day, July 1, is often a time to celebrate immigration, as newcomers to this country take their citizenship oaths,...
Ukrainian shrine known for its healing spring
At a shrine in the Ukrainian village of Zarvanytsia, visitors pray before a miraculous icon and swim in a pool fed by a reputed...
Depression taught Enrico to trust in God
Blessed Enrico Rebuschini (1860–1938) suffered from depression and occasional nervous breakdowns, but his love for the sick...
Language lets us describe joy, but also sadness
Sun rays dappling the sidewalk. Evening bird calls. Summer months promise us fun and relaxation. And they definitely can be...