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Yesterday: Innovative or Repetitive?

July 10, 2019

I looked forward to watching Yesterday ever since I saw the trailer on YouTube. It seemed to add a creative twist to yet another movie about musicians and their music. Multiple YouTube comments even praised its originality and I initially agreed. There are classic musician movies like Walk the Line, Selena, and Jersey Boys.

Plus, Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman both came out fairly recently, not to mention music-related fiction films like Once and A Star Is Born. Among them all, Yesterday seemed different. I went in expecting it to focus on The Beatles' music, but the alternate reality proved to be merely a backdrop to another classic romantic comedy. On the surface, it seems different from other musician-themed and rom-com films, but is it actually original?

Yesterday combines our present knowledge of The Beatles with a fantasy that the world completely forgot about them. Well, everyone forgot them, despite an aspiring musician and two other tension-building characters. Overall, the premise seems fairly original. It uses the Beatles’ music, but it isn’t actually about the Beatles.

It uses the fantastical backdrop of a slightly-modified reality, but it is mainly about finding love in the everyday. I get the urge to praise its originality for thinking of something new, but after watching the film I realized that it uses the same old romantic comedy tropes, just with a new setting. 

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See? Pretty much the same. Of course, other romantic comedies do differ from Yesterday, but it’s hard to ignore the strikingly similar plot lines. Romantic comedies are valuable because they are entertaining. They are light-hearted and make the viewer long for picture-perfect love.

Yesterday is an entertaining movie. When I saw it in theaters, the entire audience laughed at the numerous jokes and different character’s inability to remember The Beatles--and everyday products like Coca-Cola. Despite its value as an entertaining movie, Yesterday is still of its adherence to the classic rom-com tropes. 

It could be argued that Yesterday is original for the sub-genre of films about musicians. However, even positioning it as fictional film about a musician brings up the same, tired tropes. Fame is destructive. Money can lead to corruption. Love matters most. Granted, most fiction films espouse these values in some way. Yesterday’s Jack Malik rejects fame and money to pursue a life with his love, which only reinforces the films values of love above all. Some musician movies differ from the Yesterday plotline, but it can be argued that too many are similar for Yesterday to be original in this category as well.

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Himesh Patel as Jack Malik in 'Yesterday' (2019)

Nonetheless, Yesterday is an entertaining film in the romantic comedy genre as well as the musician movie genre, but I would not call it original despite the interesting setting. In the end, Yesterday is simply an enjoyable rom-com starring a talented musician.

Do you think the premise of Yesterday is original? Did you like the film or did it have too many clichés? Let me know in the comments below!

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