It’s always amazing to see what a director takes after dropping out of a high-profile film. Danny Boyle, he of a wide variety of genre hopping films over several decades, was poised to helm the 25th James Bond film when creative differences, delays and the like all caused him to leave the Daniel Craig film. What did he take in it’s place? A small film about an Englishman (Himesh Patel) living in a world where the Beatles have somehow managed to disappear.
And it might be the best film of the year when all is said and done.
Jack (Patel) is a struggling musician when he’s hit by a bus during a worldwide blackout. When he wakes up he discovers he’s the only one who remembers the songs of the Beatles… and he winds up becoming the biggest rock star on the planet because he’s assembled their greatest hits into his songs. Throw in his manager and love interest (Lily James) as well as Kate McKinnon in the easily the best role she’s had in a film since breaking through as the best thing on Saturday Night Live
It’s a beautiful film because it focuses on one brilliant theme throughout: the creative process…. and how it changes when you can “create” as opposed to create.
Boyle follows Jack as he manages to remember the lyrics of the Beatles when no one else can and winds up becoming the sort of famous musician he always wanted to be. He struggles with the implications of the creative process. To the world he’s this charismatic hit making machine, the voice of a generation with an amazing amount of music, but he knows he’s a phony.
As his world gets bigger, opening for Ed Sheeran, Jack’s dread is looked at by others as him suffering through imposter syndrome when in reality he knows he’s a fraud. He just happened to be in a world where the Beatles (and Coca-Cola, british band Oasis, Harry Potter and cigarettes) have vanished from. It’s a fascinating look at it because by all rights Jack shouldn’t feel that guilty over it. He’s taking advantage of an opportunity.
But Jack the artist is guilty because he wants his songs, and truly his songs, to be what he’s famous for. There’s a sadness as Jack plays Beatles songs and gets the sort of applause the Beatles got; it’s a layer of artistic inauthenticity that makes this such a fascinating film.
When all is said and done it won’t be that Danny Boyle leaving No Time To Die was one of the many disasters that befell that film before it’s April 2020 release. It’ll be that he chose to make a brilliant little film instead.
A number of extras are included but nothing special.
Universal presents Yesterday. Directed by Danny Boyle. Written by Richard Curtis. Starring Himesh Patel, Lily James, Ed Sheeran, Kate McKinnon. Run Time: 116 minutes Rated PG-13. Released on DVD: 9.24.19
Tags: Danny Boyle, Himesh Patel, Yesterday