One of the most unpredictable, enjoyable "feel-good" movies in recent memory, YESTERDAY is a clever concept, perfectly executed.
Newcomer Himesh Patel is Jack Malik, a struggling singer playing in empty coffee houses and unreceptive bars.
His friend Ellie (the amazing Lily James from "Darkest Hour" and "Baby Driver") has been his manager since he was a teenager, driving him to every gig as his biggest fan.
Just as Jack is about to give up, a planet wide 15 second blackout changes the world, including causing him to slam into a city bus and knock himself (and two of his front teeth) out.
When he comes to, he's in a world that's never heard of The Beatles, along with several other hilarious things that are enjoyable discoveries along the way.
Jack realizes that if he plays the Beatles catalogue as his own, his chances for stardom will greatly increase. but what actually happens is much bigger and more intimate at the same time.
Writer Richard Curtis (Love Actually) takes his brilliant concept, fills it with caring people, laughs and heart in equal measure and wraps it around the Beatles catalogue, which proves to be a perfect recipe.
Kate McKinnon (SNL) is hilarious as an egotistical Record Label exec and Alexander Arnold is flawless as Gavin, a local sound engineer who first records Jack. Ed Sheeran plays himself for big laughs, and more drama than I expected going in.
When Sheeran challenges Jack in front of a group of people post-show to see who can write the best original song in 20 minutes, the results are laugh out loud funny and grab your heart at the same time. That's a pretty good description for the entire movie.
Director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) brings his reliably enjoyable visual style to the screen, clearly inspired by the brightly colored sixties pop art that surrounded the Fab Four.
Boyle & Curtis create something special here.
Consider that Sheeran writing challenge scene. It could have been played for straight laughs, but watching Sheeran's reaction as Jack takes his turn becomes a true moment.
Jack's hotel rooftop performance of "Help!" is packed with power, but not for any reason that I would have assumed an hour earlier in the story.
Patel and James have quiet, authentic moments together that raise everything that follows. They feel real, never at the service of the tale.
Consider the character of Rocky (Joel Fry), Jack's longtime, ne'er-do-well friend and new road manager. I assumed I knew exactly what Rocky's story arc was going to be, but like the rest of the film, Curtis and Boyle took me down long and winding roads that I never saw coming.
If you like heartwarming, funny & romantic movies, you're going to love YESTERDAY. If you love The Beatles music as well, it's going to take you a long time to get the smile off your face at the end of YESTERDAY.
An A+ summer treat.