Moscow, Los Angeles, Gorleston: Review of Danny Boyle-directed ‘Yesterday’

Yesterday (2019). Picture: Universal Pictures/IMDB

Yesterday (2019). Picture: Universal Pictures/IMDB - Credit: Universal Pictures/IMDB

Imagine if the world’s first performance of ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’ was at the Ocean Rooms in Gorleston.

In 2019.

Or if 'Let it Be' was launched in a two-up, two-down in Lowestoft and later played in the Reed Cutter pub in Cantley, on the banks of the River Yare.

Sounds ridiculous?

Maybe, but these are some of the scenes in the Richard Curtis-scripted, Danny Boyle-directed 'Yesterday', a film portraying a world where The Beatles never existed, except in the memory of one struggling singer-songwriter, Jack Malik.

An aerial view of Gorleston beach, earlier in the day as crowds start arriving Photo: Mike Page

An aerial view of Gorleston beach, earlier in the day as crowds start arriving Photo: Mike Page - Credit: Mike Page

But before the film asks its big 'what if?', Jack (Himesh Patel) is seen busking without success on the streets of Lowestoft, his hometown, strumming a so-so song about summer.

He is struggling, mediocre, going nowhere, and nobody believes in him except his manager and friend Ellie (Lily James), who tries to convince Jack not to give up when even he has lost all hope.

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It's at that point the world has a massive amnesia spasm.

An electrical storm surges across the planet, switching off all power for 12 seconds, during which Jack is knocked off his bike by a bus and suffers concussion.

And when he plays the song 'Yesterday' his friends think it's his composition.

At home he googles 'The Beatles' but finds only references to insects.

Jack struggles with the dilemma - should he pretend he wrote the songs?

He doesn't struggle for long - and the script soon has him being hailed by Ed Sheeran as a genius, the Mozart to his Salieri.

Which is all a lot of fun, but Curtis' screenplay rarely explores its original premise.

Because how different would a Beatles-less world be?

Not much, it seems.

Okay, there's no Coca-Cola and no cigarettes.

And no Oasis.

But other than that everything seems pretty much the same.

Yet, at the film's heart, there is a nagging sadness or emptiness, which in this case is maybe the same thing.

Quibbles aside, it's a thrill to see familiar places on the big screen.

One of the movie's motifs is every time it shifts location the name of that place appears on the screen in tall yellow letters.

So, over the next couple of weeks, if you go to the film you'll see up there the names of Moscow, Los Angeles...

And Gorleston.