Rom-com imagines a dystopian world without the Beatles
I've always loved the Beatles, but it's Sgt. Peppercorn's Marathon that has given me a whole new level of appreciation for these songs.
The annual event, during which local musician Joe Peppercorn and friends perform every Beatles song in order over 12-plus hours, is both a feat of musical endurance and a testament to the decades-spanning impact of this music.
There's something special about experiencing it live, and some of my most indelible memories with friends have been made there over the years.
And it's the lasting power of the Beatles' music and our connection to it that makes Danny Boyle's “Yesterday” so charming.
Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) is a singer-songwriter struggling to find an audience for his music in his sleepy seaside town.
Despite the longtime support of his childhood friend/manager, Ellie (Lily James), Jack is ready to give up on his dreams.
Then a brief global blackout happens, during which Jack is involved in an accident. When he awakens, the world seems pretty much the same to Jack. It is not.
When his friends buy Jack a new guitar to cheer him up, he breaks it in by playing the Beatles' “Yesterday.” His friends have no recollection of the song and think it's genius.
It turns out that no one but Jack has any memory that the Beatles existed, which puts Jack in an interesting dilemma in terms of his musical career.
Boyle takes the simple, clever premise and molds something that's like a blend between a sweet and light rom-com and a more cheerful “Black Mirror” episode.
An earnest and charming performance by Patel captures the woes of a struggling artist who is then faced with the woes of a successful artist.
As Jack's recordings of songs he's passing off as his own grow globally popular, he's faced with a classic imposter syndrome, as well as his lingering feelings for Ellie. It's both a rags-to-riches tale and a ships-passing-in-the-night story.
We enter some well-worn territory on music industry greed, and get a delightful comedic turn from Ed Sheeran playing himself that earns some of the film's biggest laughs.
Boyle (“Slumdog Millionaire”) is not going to get any Oscar nominations here, but he's great in summer crowd-pleaser mode. If the Beatles taught us anything, it's that a perfect pop song is its own form of art. It's not perfect, but it's hard to resist “Yesterday.”