I've been listening to the White Album and Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band for most of my life. "Blackbird" was the first song I learnt to play on the guitar. I know all the lyrics to "Rocky Raccoon", a Beatles song that most people have never even heard of. This isn't me being a snob about "real" music. This is me warning you that it was going to be really hard for me to dislike Yesterday.
Because this is a tribute film. It's a tribute to the Beatles and their music, and it's a tribute to their fans of all ages. It loves the Beatles and it doesn't care if you don't.
Yesterday doesn't chase its premise down like some may hope it would. There's surface level gags about what wouldn't exist without the Beatles, but by-and-far, the movie isn't very interested in the alternate reality it constructs. It cares more about the heart of it and what the Beatles' music have meant to fans over the years.
If you don't like the Beatles, this isn't going to be what changes your mind. Their music forms the backbone of this movie; every time the action starts to sag, we're treated with another gorgeous cover by Himesh Patel that zooms us along again. And for a moment, you forget about the movie's cliches, its occasionally simplistic dialogue, and are instead brought back to the first time you heard The Long and Winding Road. There's something electric about how Yesterday transports you to your first encounters with the music. But if you've got no love for the Beatles, these moments aren't going to bring you as much joy as they did for me.
There's a moment in Yesterday, after which I knew there was no way I could review this movie. The second it happened, any attempt at objectivity flew out the window. I completely fell for the movie in all its sappiness, its earnestness, its unabashed love for John, Paul, George, and Ringo.
Himesh Patel, Lily James, and Joel Fry shine by fully donning this movie's upbeat, glowing tone, stripped of any cynicism or judgement. That's the thing about Yesterday. It is without any cynicism. For some, that may precisely be the problem. Some cynicism may have led to sharper dialogue, a better commentary on the pop music industry, or a more reflective examination of the Beatles' legacy. But instead, Yesterday just cares about loving the music. And that worked for me.