YesterdayBy Bobby Neal Winters
You'd think that people would have had enough of silly love songs
I look around me and I see it isn't so
Some people want to fill the world with silly love songs
And what's wrong with that
I'd like to know
One hazard of writing is using too many cliches. This is difficult because cliches are overused because they are so darned good. The well-known tropes are known so well because they work so well. Boy meets girl; boy loses girl; boy wins girl back.
I like that plot even though I know how it is going to end the minute I see it begin. The art is in seeing how it is used with other tools of the writer’s trade in order to produce the story. We don’t criticise painters because they only use colors made from yellow, blue, and red, so we shouldn’t criticise a storyteller for using his pallette either.
I went to see the movie Yesterday, starring Himesh Patel and Lilly James. Patel is new, but you may have seen Lilly James before if you are a Downton Abbey fan like I am. She played Lady Rose who was always getting herself into mischief. We know from the moment we see these two on the screen together what will happen; it is a fait accompli, a done deal. But we want to see it again. That is the magic. How that is done is the art.
I will not be revealing too much about Yesterday by saying it is a fantasy, but one with a fairly small willing suspension of disbelief: What if the Beatles never were? What if none of their music was ever written, but you--alone in all the world--remembered?
Yesterday is based upon this premise.
Himesh Patel is on his way home one night after a disappointing reception of his music when--as if an act of God--the lights go out all over the world; he is seriously injured in an accident; and when he recovers he slowly discovers that all knowledge of the Beatles has been erased.
And all the world is exactly as it has been before, except that whenever he plays one of their hits it is as if water has been sprinkled on a thirsty land.
Given this premise, one might believe it would be followed by a movie that showcases all of your favorite Beatles songs, and one might be right, but there is in fact more. We do get the love story just as I described; and you know how it will end from the moment you see the two of them on the screen together. But there is more going on here.
We also get an examination of the Hollywood Machine. Here in enters the well-named character Debra Hammer, played by Kate McKinnon whom I loathe. But that is okay as here she plays an entirely loathsome character. At one point, talking to our hero, she asks, “Do you want to drink poison from the chalice of fame and fortune?” Yes is the only answer she will accept; it is the only one ever given.
There have been many movies cataloguing the excesses of fame but no time is wasted on that here. It is about making a choice about whether or not to lose one’s soul. The answer given is the one we want, but the art is in the telling.
There is artistry here. Someone who actually knows something about movies would be able to put it better, but there are two instances where the audience is told something with just a picture and a facial expression. A picture is worth a thousand words? In the hands of an artist sometimes more.
There is one surprising scene near the end of the movie that alone would be worth the price of the whole ticket.
This is a movie that teenagers and parents can see together without any embarrassment, and everyone will like it.
If you are not careful, you might wind up singing along with the closing credits. I encourage it, by the way.