Imagine your life without your favorite music artist. It’s kind of hard to do.
I, for one, could not imagine life without any number of artists, but having to choose one who’s created a soundtrack to my life, it would be Prince. Or maybe Michael Jackson. Or maybe Earth, Wind & Fire. Or maybe …
We, as a people, take something as beautifully simple and alternately complex as music for granted. In the case of the film “Yesterday,” the characters — well most of them — live in a world where the Beatles never existed.
And in the process, director Danny Boyle (“Trainspotting”) and screenwriter Richard Curtis (“Love Actually”) create a multilayered experience that’s a romantic comedy, a musical and a commentary on the state of music today.
Given the need to totally suspend disbelief, “Yesterday” will face plenty of detractors. Given the smile that generally stayed plastered on my face, it doesn’t matter.
The film’s premise is reminiscent of “Sliding Doors” as it takes a look at an alternate reality sure to grab the attention of music and pop culture fans.
Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) is the stereotypical struggling musician. Toiling around suburban London playing pubs and parties with his loyal friends, including best friend and manager Ellie (Lily James) in tow, he’s finally had enough and decided to pack his dreams away for good and return to teaching.
Then the cosmos or a concussion interferes. Take your pick. Through some weird circumstance he lands in a universe where the Beatles do not exist, opening the door for some opportunism, soul-searching and for Boyle and Curtis to get in a couple of shots at the current music industry.
It’s a no-brainer to discern Ellie and Jack have feelings for one another even if one is more cognizant of the fact than the other. The easy chemistry between James and Patel make that particular story line easier to digest, especially given the theme of unrequited or near-unrequited love that plays across films written by Curtis (think “Love Actually”).
However, it’s the shallow, yet still on point analysis of the music industry that resonated in this corner, as Kate McKinnon’s portrayal of a rapacious manager who “discovers” Jack and essentially sells his soul to the highest bidder provides more than a few hilarious moments.
Some will take issue with mining the Beatles catalog to create what can be called a piece of summer fluff. Given the superhero, remake and sequel overload that’s held the nation’s screens hostage this year, I’ll take a little mind candy.
George M. Thomas dabbles in movies and television for the Beacon Journal. Reach him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @ByGeorgeThomas