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Film / Yesterday (2019)

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"Sometimes it feels like someone else has written all the songs."
Jack: Do you genuinely not know who The Beatles are?
Ellie: Genuinely.
Jack: Then I’m in a really, really, really complicated situation.

Yesterday is a musical comedy directed by Danny Boyle and written by Richard Curtis, the film marks the feature debut of EastEnders star Himesh Patel as Jack, joined by Lily James as his childhood friend Ellie and Kate McKinnon as his ruthless manager Debra.

Jack Malik has wanted to be a musician his entire life, driven by his idolization of The Beatles, to the point that he knows all their songs by heart. But after years of never getting anywhere, he finally gives up, only to be hit by a car during a mysterious worldwide power failure. Upon waking up, everything seems the same, but then he plays "Yesterday" for his friends and family...and they all assume he wrote it! Somehow, Jack has landed in a world where the Beatles never existed, enabling him to truly make a name for himself as he passes off one of the greatest music catalogs of all time as his own one by one.


Previews: Trailer.

Yesterday contains examples of:

  • Alternate History: Somehow a worldwide blackout sends Jack into a world that's mostly the same except for a lack of the Beatles. Also, there's no band called Oasis, nor cigarettes, Harry Potter, or Coca-Cola.
  • As Himself: Ed Sheeran in a main role. James Cordon also briefly appears, although his interview with Jack turns out to be an Imagine Spot.
  • Brutal Honesty: Debra never pulls punches when she talks. It's unclear if she even knows the concept.
  • Caper Rationalization: Jack is plagiarizing the material of the Beatles, but, as far as he knows, they're nonexistent in this world.
    • He gets to meet elderly John Lennon late in the story, and nothing in their conversation indicates that John ever wrote any songs.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Between Jack and Ellie.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Debra makes no pretense about how her company will be taking most of Jack's money when he's signed to them.
  • Advertisement:
  • For Want of a Nail: See Alternate History, above. Some changes could be explained by the Beatles' absence. Others seem more of a stretch.
  • Hate Sink: Debra. She makes it pretty clear that she only sees Jack as a way for her to make tons of money, and it is rather satisfying to see her Villainous Breakdown near the end after Jack comes clean.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Gavin gracefully steps aside after Jack admits in front of the entire Wembley Stadium crowd that he's in love with Ellie.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Despite one of the foundational presences in pop culture being erased from existence, the world seems largely identical to ours.
  • Lonely at the Top: Jack finds that Ellie is intimidated by him after becoming the greatest music star in the world.
  • Oh, Crap!: Jack's reaction to the claim two men made all of his songs who might be the still-living members of the band. However, it was just a dream.
  • Rags to Riches: Jack is a poor musician with no audience that finds himself capable of stealing all of the Beatles' success.
  • The Reveal: It’s hinted at a few times that the man shown in Moscow and the woman seen in Liverpool both watching Jack know about the Beatles. The big reveal, though, is they aren't angry at Jack, but glad someone is sharing the Beatles. Liz, the woman, has even located John Lennon, who is still alive, but has no idea what he did in the original timeline. He doesn't even seem to know who Jack is despite him being world-famous by that point, thinking he is just a weirdo who wanted to see him.
  • Riddle for the Ages: What caused the blackout? Why did the Beatles get Ret Goned? We never find out.
  • Ripple-Proof Memory: Jack is the only person who remembers the Beatles or so he thinks; a man in Moscow and a woman in Liverpool do, too, but they can't sing and are grateful that Jack is sharing the Beatles with the world.
  • Running Gag: The Beatles aren't the only thing missing from this world, and Jack only learns about them sporadically. Smash Cut to someone (presumably Jack) looking up the topic to see that it does not exist.
  • Smug Snake: Debra certainly has a smug attitude during most of her screentime and is absolutely certain that Jack's records are going to make her millions.
  • Take That!: Oasis not existing makes sense in light of the fact the band were often criticised as a rip off of The Beatles.
  • That Came Out Wrong: Jack forgets that Coca-Cola doesn't exist and asks a flight attendant if she has any coke onboard. She misunderstands because, unfortunately for Jack, "coke" is still a slang name for cocaine. He quickly changes his order to Pepsi.
  • Villainous Breakdown: As the closest thing the film has to an antagonist, Debra gets a noticeable one when Jack not only reveals to the world that he plagiarized the Beatles, but uploads all of his recordings of their songs for people to listen to free of charge. The last we see of Debra is her attempting to catch Jack as he and Ellie flee the stadium and irately screaming at him when Rocky blocks her path.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Debra disappears at the end of the movie, last seen yelling at Jack as he and Ellie flee the show. The Distant Finale reveals he teaches Beatles songs to kids, but there's no word on Debra since she was pissed at Jack for having lied (and for leaking the entire album online).


Example of: