Ode to Beatles a happy satire

MIRACLES can happen… who would have thought Benedict Cumberbatch would be a sex symbol? And that sets off the tone of the Danny Boyle movie,Yesterday. It’s a giggly, tongue-in-cheek, sweet  fantasy-comedy-romance that lets you leave the theatre smiling.

Ed Sheeran in Yesterday

The audience is responsive to the charm of lead character Jack Malik (played by Himesh Patel, Eastenders tv series) and sings readily enough to those well-known Beatles tunes. I mean, who doesn’t know the Beatles, man, and their music?

The story revolves around a struggling singer-songwriter Malik who is just about to give up on his chance at fame and fortune when he is hit by a bus during a strange global electricity blackout.

When he comes to at the hospital, his childhood best friend and manager, Ellie (Lily James, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again) is at his bed to reassure him that he is all right and should continue his career.

So, he goes home to recuperate with mum (Meera Syal, The Kumars at No 42 tv series) and dad (Sanjeev Bhaskar, Unforgotten tv series).

Malik gets a new guitar from Ellie, sings Yesterday, and finds out that he’s about the only person who remembers the Beatles, after googling the band’s name.

He also finds out there’s no Coca-Cola, only Pepsi, that no one’s heard of a cigarette and Saturday Night Live is now taped on Thursdays.

Well, what would you do if you are only a bedroom act and suddenly, yesterday is your tomorrow? Do you do what Malik does, as per the Richard Curtis script, and pass off those timeless songs of the band from Liverpool as your own, and make some good money?

And hey, Ed Sheeran (played by himself) discovers Malik, and he gets to be his opening act in a Moscow gig. Malik sings Born in the USSR, and Sheeran wonders why and how Malik – born after the fall of the Soviet Union – referred to the country by its old name.

I am drawn to Sheeran’s hands-on manager Mandi (Kate McKinnon), who plays a barracuda of business with such glee. The comedienne does yoga in her Los Angeles pad like she’s an exercise ball all by herself.

When Sheeran tries to change the song title from “Hey Jude” to “Hey Dude”, you must know Boyle and Curtis are poking fun at the music world today. The era of a video every week, and a new song too.

The movie is satire at its cloak, and silliness in its heart. It’s a lovely movie for Beatles’fans, music lovers and rom-com enthusiasts.

It’s nice to hear Himesh actually sing the Beatles’ songs well enough to recognise them. Good pitch, nice mellow tone.

The great hits are all here in Yesterday, and there’s even a nonsensical bit of John Lennon being alive in Scotland.

“A world without The Beatles is a world that’s infinitely worse,” as one fan tells Himesh. Hear, hear!

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