After an unexplained blackout sweeps the entire planet for 12 seconds, a belabored singer/songwriter in England (an awkward but relaxed Himesh Patel, Eastenders, 2007-2016) slowly discovers he's the only person alive who remembers The Beatles.
All The Beatles songs, performances, popularity, and record sales never existed....except in this man's mind. So as anyone struggling to live their dreams, he uses his knowledge partly to spread joy to others and partly for his own advantage.
With such a wacky premise, Yesterday could easily veer off into a fantasyland with all style and no substance. But it doesn't do that thanks, in part, to a screenplay rooted in the real world written by Richard Curtis (War Horse, 2011). With such a great repertoire of wide-ranging music being a big part of the film, Yesterday carefully avoids falling into a vapid or simplified musical review. (Remember how well the Mamma Mia films did that in 2008 and 2018?) The Beatles music serves more as a backdrop to the leading man's story as he learns the price of fame, the value of integrity, and the challenge of believing in yourself.
Director Danny Boyle (Steve Jobs, 2015) injects some of his frantic and maniacal energy into this film that gives Yesterday a fun jolt. Even though this maniacal energy is inconsistent, and even though the third act is far too romantically cloying, Yesterday will still make you feel happy inside and remind you of music's infectious power. It's not an award-winner but a fluffy feel-good treat for the summer.