Response: ‘Yesterday’ Movie Charms a Second Time as a Love Letter to Love and the Beatles

Himesh Patel and Lily James star in YESTERDAY, directed by Danny Boyle. (Credit: Jonathan Prime/Universal)

Sometimes a movie can take two tries to get you to really understand what’s to love about it.

On initial review of this movie, I was a bit unimpressed. Maybe it be my initial expectations for a grandiose story of music and chasing music and the Beatles. Or maybe it be my expecting a bit more of a “coming-of-age” story, as I tend to see in a lot of music movies today.

This second time I was able to see the movie (in theaters as opposed to an advanced screener) and I seemed to enjoy it a lot more — to the point where I shed a tear, cried a bit, and perhaps felt the effect of it being more a story of love and chasing your passion than a story celebrating the music of the Beatles.

To precursor, in my previous review, I had written:

In Danny Boyle’s newest musical fantasy film Yesterday, Jack Malick (Himesh Patel) is that struggling indie-rocker who one day wakes up and discovers he can perform the songs of the Beatles, and call them his own. The Beatles, who have written some of the greatest songs and movie moments of our time, are adored and adored for a reason.

After the tragic accident, Jack returns and is gifted a new guitar by his best friend and manager Ellie (Lily James). He tests the guitar out by singing “Yesterday,” to which his friends are particularly moved. Ellie herself even looks as if she’s moved to tears, asking, “When did you write that?” as the heartfelt lyrics and sincere melodies are just beautiful.

That’s when Jack seems to hit a “songwriting mojo” and begins to go into a frenzy to rewrite and recover all of the Beatles’ classic hits.

…and Jack seems to experience the fame of the “Beatlemania” on his own.

Jack becomes the envy of talented singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, as he takes him on tour. Jokes about the pop music industry and pertaining to an “image” are mocked by a hilarious portrayal of artist manager Elizabeth Banks.

All the while, the story of where Jack came from, with his best friend Ellie’s undying support who has managed him all these years and his humble beginnings, give us an understanding of Jack’s character. Jack seems to be unamused by all of the chaos happening around him — how the Beatles became nonexistent, how things in pop culture seem to not exist anymore (which makes us wonder if the Beatles had never existed, would these other things in pop culture not have existed as well?).

It’s also important to note how where you’re at and how you’re feeling at a given time can influence how you see a movie. Although I had already seen this movie a month ago, seeing it a second time, even though I already knew what was coming, allowed me to just sit back and take it in.

I found myself seeing the smaller, special moments more intimately. Moments where Jack and his friends teased him with gifts post-accident were absolutely charming. Jack showcasing these legendary songs of the Beatles for the first time still gave me the same chuckles the first time around.

And even in his conversations with Ellie, where she encouraged him:

Don’t go back to teaching! If you use all your imagination on those kids, you’ll have no imagination left for your music.

That quote hit me extra hard. As a musician and creative myself, seeing myself pour my energy and imagination into other jobs, workplaces or people, saw myself being drained and exhausted at the end of the day. The endless creative’s struggle to be honest to your work and truth is something not everyone can understand.

Lily James and Himesh Patel star in YESTERDAY, directed by Danny Boyle. (Credit: Jonathan Prime/Universal)

And even though the story of fame versus the girl has become a bit trite, it played well in this movie. Jack and Ellie’s friendship goes unnoticed, and her fervent belief and faith in him is felt so well. You feel for Ellie. And you feel for Jack. And it only took a moment with the Beatles and chasing their music for him to realize that all this is nothing without love in the end.

The music of the Beatles was so telling in its time — and there’s a reason it has become so timeless. Their songs are innocent and simple when it comes to telling of love and peace. They’ve the ability to wake people up, wake people up from the ways of the world, but also remind us that humanity is all about peace and love, and without it, our world would be less than.

If you’re looking for a good movie to laugh to, cry to, dance to, and simply enjoy for the sake of music, love and just to jam out to, Yesterday is your movie.

If you’ve already seen it, let me know your thoughts. I’m curious what you think!

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