Yesterday Review - Charming, The Best Film of the Summer

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Yesterday, from Universal Pictures, brings to the screen a fun filled summer film of unrequited love, destroyed dreams, friendship, and how we react when miraculously life, through fate, kismet, or chance delivers on every dream we’ve ever believed.

Directed by Danny Boyle, Yesterday stars Himesh Patel, Lily James, Ed Sheeran, Kate McKinnon, James Corden, Sophia Di Martino, Ellise Chappell, Meera Syal, Harry Michell, Joel Fry, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Alexander Arnold, Sarah Lancashire, Justin Edwards, Lamorne Morris, and Craig Rowin.

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Yesterday begins with down on his luck musician, singer, songwriter, Jack Malick, played by Himesh Patel, playing a gig to a dwindling audience. His cheerleaders, Manager Ellie, played by Lily James, Carol, played by Sophia Di Martino and her husband, Nick, played by Harry Michell and couch surfing/roadie friend, Rocky, played by Joel Fry are the backbone of his crew.

After one particularly bad moment, the crowd of four, all children, plus his cheerleaders made him realize this is the moment, the turning point. The effort and deferment of pleasure is not paying off. Miracles may happen but for someone else.

As Ellie is driving him home, he says it. It’s time to go back to teaching, to a real career, one that is practical and at least for a moment will bring fulfillment (possibly).

Slamming on the brakes, Ellie states emphatically and firmly no. "No, you can’t go back to teaching." Jack, on the other hand, simply says, “let me out here.” A small break in their twenty-year relationship.

Biking home, this is where the film moves into the second act. Suddenly, we see the lights flickering in a cascade across the world. Jack also sees the lights, streetlights, signage, neon tubing, as every bit of global electrical power flickers, fades and dies. It is at this moment that he is approaching a darkened intersection and is hit full on by a bus.

Suddenly the lights are coming back on, and all seems normal, he is recovering, his injuries are obvious, Ellie is patiently waiting. All is the way it should be or so it seems.

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The accident, of course, mangled his guitar and practical and thoughtful Ellie, the schoolteacher, buys him another and over lunch he plays Yesterday, The Beatles tune. The reception is remarkable with Ellie in tears and in awe over the emotive lyrics. And his friends, of course, shocked that he has hide such a beautiful tune from them. His persistence of The Beatles brings a speech from Nick of the pretension of musical prowess who find genius in obscurity while the rest of us are dependent on the radio.

Rushing home, he heads to Goggle and searches, The Beatles, John, Paul, George and Ringo, nothing, no mention, musical history erased, references nothing. No click searches, links to links, something anything, nothing.

And then at the crossroads of obscurity and global fame, Jack Malick makes the decision and after a few missteps, is discovered by Ed Sheeran, who lives locally and needs an opening act. His electrifying lyrics, catchy licks hit the soul of the music world and the largely unsuccessful Jack Malick and suddenly become a big deal.

Which is where we meet the most wielding, powerful, woman in music, Debra Hammer played by Kate McKinnon.

Hammer, the ultimate talent agent, who has no concern for Jack as he is only a product, and as a product she feels obligated in nearly every conversation to point out every flaw, even if it borders on humiliation.

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With home court advantage, she invites Jack to Los Angeles and to her little bungalow, a palatial Malibu Beach house with a wrap around ocean front terrace, as she explains the challis of poison which holds all the pleasures, fame and fortune could be his if he steps up and owns it.

What follows is nothing short of brilliant! Yesterday is a fantastic film, filled with the realities of life on both sides of the process.

The casting is magnificent, the acting layered with the internal struggles as our characters lose themselves, find themselves, lose each other, find what they believe will satisfy and then finally discover the truth of their own personal happiness.

This is a film that pulls back the velvet curtain and allows audiences and everyone who has ever hoped, believed, been there, longed for or walked away to see and remember.

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The alternative universe film also portrays the late John Lennon, now 78, in a house by the sea, an artist, tinkering away at his artwork. I was reminded when the door opened of the loss, and even in recreation with no musical genius in play, it was as if an old friend appeared triggering memories of yesterday.

Kate McKinnon is deliciously evil. She is the temptress with the perfectly polished apple and no matter which direction common sense pulls the gleam in the apple, the image of dreams realized, is more magnetic.

The screen chemistry between Lily James and newcomer Himesh Patel, drives home this amusing and entertaining alt-universe film. Of course, with Ed Sheeran and James Cordon, playing themselves ramps up the level of authenticity that will have fans and audiences standing and cheering for Yesterday.

Yesterday opens Friday, June 28, 2019. See it. It is the best, fun-filled, film of the summer!

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