D was mentioning to me that Yesterday had a Metacritic score of 54. That sounds bad. Is Metacrtic based on a scale of 100? Let me see. … … … Okay Wikipedia says that in Metacritic if you give something an A it equals 100 and a B- is 67. Oh brother, really? The point is that 54 doesn’t come anywhere near this movie. I’m left to ask, what’s wrong with people? What do they expect and what more can they ask for? If you don’t like The Beatles, or think your brain will explode if you have to hear even one more Beatles song or hear even one more person say they are their favorite band, I can understand that. Even though it’s indisputable about The Beatles being the greatest band of all time, you certainly are entitled to poor taste and your overall contrariness — though you should get that checked out. So okay, if that is you then this film isn’t for you. There won’t be nearly enough point blank range brain spatter, sideboob or underbutt to keep you happy. Hey, I don’t understand you but Yesterday is art and the value of art is certainly still in the eye of the beholder.
Now that that is out of the way, there is another issue I have. If you think the theme of the film is something like, “Imagine a world where The Beatles never existed”, you’d be off. Maybe not way off, but importantly off. The theme is, “What happens when bringing joy to all means devastation to you.” Okay, fine, there is probably a better theme out there but the point is there are many alternate themes. There are a lot of ways you could think about this film and a lot of ways it could affect you. Or maybe you just go for the music and to laugh and have fun?
But do think about this. What if it was up to you to bring The Beatles to the masses? Could you think of all the lyrics to Eleanor Rigby even if you proclaim The Beatles as the greatest or your favorite band? Try it. I don’t think I can get past the first two lines. How about if it was up to you to bring Van Gogh to the masses? Could you paint The Starry Night? It would be tricky and your friends would wonder why you were up all night these days, looking like a maniac, trying to paint these odd landscapes. And though I have many favorite scenes in this film, I really love the scene where Jack, played effortlessly Himesh Patel, is standing alone in the rain, facing the precipice of the choice before him. He looks at his reflection in a storefront window and asks himself, Can you do this?
This is a moment we all face all the time. Can we do this? Can we challenge ourselves. Fill the canvas, the page, the 1s and 0s, the sensors, transform the wild flowers. Take a chance.
After writing this blog for two years now, it’s come clear to me that a great film must: 1. Have a heart. 2. Be thought provoking. — And I don’t mean thought provoking like, “If the concierge at the hotel in John Wick 3 isn’t a fighter how the hell can he survive all those armed storm trooper dudes shooting automatic weapons at him? …Oh because he played a cop in The Wire.” No, not thought provoking like that. Thought provoking like, What is beauty? What is talent? How do you express love? What does a Faustian bargain really mean? If you are not eating all those sandwiches can I have one? This film raises a multitude of questions about the paths we take, about destiny, about art. If Matacritic is still at 54 will it still need me when it’s 64?
Is Yesterday a perfect film? No, but the day I see a perfect film I will stop watching films because the robots or aliens will have taken over. It is however an utterly human film. We heard a few folks clapping during the credits. I can’t remember the last time I heard that. Also, this movie made me happy about life. Like last years’ amazing doc Free Solo, about Alex Honnold, who climbed El Capitan in Yosemite without ropes, Yesterday gave back. I think of it less like a movie and more like a gift. So my advice is to go and enjoy it unless you are knee-deep in a game of Fortnite, passed out with a needle in your arm or copying and pasting bogus Metacritic reviews. Then, you know, carry on, keep calm and keep a stiff upper lip.