Yesterday ★★½

I'm confused what this movie wanted to be about.

Is it about appropriation of artistic authorship?

About the timeless quality of The Beatles?

The lead is a struggling musician who still seems to struggle even though he uses The Beatles' discography up until the point when success suddenly is around the corner. I guess there are slight scenes of doubt but nothing really about him coming to terms with getting lauded a genius even though he stole the whole thing. Films like The Wife get this kind of topic somewhat better across with subtlety. If this was the topic then Boyle should've maybe dialed up the drama aspect.

If this was more about the universal connectivity of The Beatles it also falls short for me in that regard. First the question would be if their songs would get that much attention if they were to be released today instead of being considered classics. Would "Hey Dude" really get that much traction in a world that listens to Cardi B? Can you just take a song (or any artistic artefact) out of its cultural context and have it work? Would a song like "Jailhouse Rock" still climb to the #1 spot on the US Billboard Top 100 in 2019?

Additionally, the lead is struggling with some of the lyrics for the songs. Which would make for an interesting discussion point what is more important for the success of these songs: the tune or the lyrics? I guess the film briefly goes into this direction when they have the "Hey Jude"/"Hey Dude" dialogue. But are the lyrics really that important? If he sang "Raspberry Fields" instead of "Strawberry Fields" what difference does this make for the US listeners who are unfamiliar with the historical context? I also don't understand why he isn't just re-recording "Wonderwall" once his memory fades on The Beatles. You have a smash it in your bag, use it.

Having The Beatles wiped from memory is one thing, broadening this idea including Oasis, Coca-Cola and more feels strange. So this world still has Coldplay but no Oasis. Meaning Oasis was directly influenced by The Beatles but Chris Martin wasn't? This world has Pepsi Cola but not Coca-Cola? Sure, this is a whole different debate wether Pepsi was influenced by Coke yet I don't understand why the movie simply didn't just leave it at The Beatles.

So maybe this is more a love story – but not a convincing one at that. He doesn't realize this girl standing in his Friend Zone for 20 years. Once she tells him, he reacts flustered but leaves for his career. Once they do make out but she doesn't want to be merely a fling he again leaves for his career. And then only after she moves on he suddenly wants her and we're treating this as true love? And her ex immediately gets her friend as a consolation prize, even though the two of them never shared a scene together? Strange treatment of women.

Ultimately I think the story would've played better with him struggling accepting the fame he always wanted but lacked the talent for due to him appropriating The Beatles. Either go full in and have him hanging on to his personal vinyls of the band. Then you can treat this as some kind of Back to the Future Sports Almanach treasure thing. Or have him say "screw the lyrics" and kind of winging it at times. Which would emphasize the important relationship of music and lyrics.

P.S.: I do not know why Kate McKinnon thought this was one of her SNL sketches but her performance did not fit into this film at all for me.