You’ll be­lieve in Yes­ter­day

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - INSIDER - VICKY ROACH TWIT­TER.COM/VICKYROACH_HIT

Fancy a sweet shot of nos­tal­gia with your glitch-in-the-space­time-con­tin­uum mu­si­cal? Then Yes­ter­day, about a strug­gling British singer-song­writer who awakes from a coma to dis­cover he’s the only per­son on the planet to re­mem­ber The Bea­tles, has you cov­ered.

Imag­in­ing a world with­out John, Paul, Ge­orge and Ringo gives screen­writer Richard Curtis (Love Ac­tu­ally) and direc­tor Danny Boyle (Slum­dog Mil­lion­aire) an ex­cuse to raid the Fab Four’s ex­ten­sive back cat­a­logue.

And the nar­ra­tive con­ceit of hand­ing those ex­em­plary pop tunes to an un­suc­cess­ful artist lends them fresh per­spec­tive.

English ac­tor Himesh Pa­tel (EastEnders) adds tex­ture with well-judged per­for­mance which draws upon his ev­ery­man charisma.

He doesn’t do a half-bad job with the songs, ei­ther.

Yes­ter­day is a su­pe­rior juke­box mu­si­cal and it hits all the right notes as a crowd­pleas­ing rom-com.

But then, it’s di­rected by a British dream team, with the direc­tor of Trainspot­ting and 28 Days Later rein­ing in his col­league’s ten­dency to­wards schmaltzy ex­cess.

Lily James (Down­ton Abbey) cre­ates a solid ro­man­tic foil as the slightly dorky high school teacher who moon­lights as the lead char­ac­ter’s man­ager (the Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again star barely gets to sing a note). But this is Pa­tel’s film. Af­ter years of per­form­ing in empty pubs to his three best friends, Jack Ma­lik fi­nally de­cides to call it quits. Rid­ing home from his last, failed gig, Jack is struck by a bus at the ex­act in­stant the lights go out all over the en­tire world

When he comes to — bruised black-and-blue and miss­ing his two front teeth — The Bea­tles, Oa­sis, cig­a­rettes and Coca-Cola no longer ex­ist.

Af­ter some rather per­func­tory soul-search­ing, Jack claims the Fab Four’s songs as his own, des­per­ately wrack­ing his brains to re­mem­ber some of the more ob­scure lyrics (Eleanor Rigby eludes him for much of the film).

There’s a fun scene in which Jack is con­stantly in­ter­rupted by his lov­ingly con­de­scend­ing par­ents af­ter they ask him to per­form one of “his” new tunes.

Even The Bea­tles’ proven pop smarts don’t ini­tially im­prove Jack’s for­tunes.

It’s only when Ed Sheeran hears one of the songs on a lo­cal TV talk show that his me­te­oric as­cent be­gins.

Kate McKin­non de­liv­ers a scene-steal­ing per­for­mance as Jack’s bru­tally hon­est, mon­ey­hun­gry in­dus­try rep.

When he tries to sneak one of his own songs on to the new al­bum, she dis­misses it as so bor­ing and for­get­table, she can’t even be both­ered lis­ten­ing to it again to be sure.

Of course, the greater Jack’s suc­cess, the more his con­science trou­bles him.

El­lie, long suf­fer­ing man­ager, No.1 fan and would-be lover, serves as his moral compass.

Even when you know you are be­ing played like a three-chord rock’n’roll stan­dard, the nat­u­ral ex­u­ber­ance of Yes­ter­day’s ap­peal­ing ro­man­tic leads car­ries you along.

OPENS THURS­DAY

Himesh Pa­tel chan­nels The Bea­tles from Yes­ter­day.

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