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Yesterday (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Yesterday was a film I went into viewing with a very vague familiarity for the storyline. I knew it was something of a “what-if” story and involved the marvelous music of The Beatles. Leaving my knowledge at that, it doesn’t sound like much. I am very glad that I hadn’t been given too much of the storyline before viewing, as Yesterday proved to be my kind of movie to a T! Comedy, music, mild romance, and really engaging performances proved to be just the right medicine for me this past weekend. Below, I go in-depth on Yesterday which is hitting shelves September 24th!

 

Film 

Yesterday begins with Jack Patel (Himesh Patel) as a singer/songwriter struggling to follow his audience. He performs nights and weekends and works his days in the British equivalent of a Costco.  He is the kind of artist who is talented in voice and instrument but could be better at songwriting. His songs are simple and hummable but not memorable at all. Jack is the kind of artist who plays in the tiny empty tent at festivals.  His friend Ellie (Lily James) is always with him as his manager, helping to get his music out there and encouraging Jack every step of the way.

One night after an especially painful appearance at a music festival, there is a world spanning blackout that causes Jack to get hit by a bus. Waking a day later, missing some teeth, Jack meets with friends and receives a new guitar.  The first tune he plays is Yesterday by The Beatles and his friends are immediately overwhelmed by the song’s beauty. They react as if they’ve never heard the classic song. To Jack’s amazement, they have no clue who The Beatles are.  After some Googling, Jack learns that somehow during the blackout the world’s collective memory of The Beatles has disappeared. They don’t exist to anyone. Jack then begins to perform the band’s brilliant work and uses it as his own to catapult him into music success.

When Jack begins giving copies of a short EP away at his day job, he lands an appearance on local TV and is seen by Ed Sheeran (playing himself in a glorified cameo), who is blown away by the song he hears on the TV show. Jack is then approached by Debra Hammer, a talent agent (Kate McKinnon) and asked by Sheeran to go on tour with him. Jack blows audiences away and even one ups Ed Sheeran by “writing” a song in mere moments (He performs the gorgeous classic The Long and Winding Road.)

Back home, Ellie checks in often, wishing she were there for the ride. Jack continues to delve deeper into The Beatles’ catalog and gets a memory block attempting to learn Eleanor Rigby. Needing a reprieve and some inspiration to remember, Jack goes to Liverpool and has an epiphany – Does he go on with his lie or does he come clean to the world?

Yesterday really reinvigorates the romantic comedy genre. Danny Boyle’s film could’ve played it cutesy and safe. It could’ve done the bare minimum and tried to still be charming. Instead, the film brings charm, wit, chemistry and some outstanding performances to the table instead. Himesh Patel is a wonderful actor with great timing and a very convincing lead performance. He gives off sensitivity and a down to earth nature that is a joy to watch. Lily James sparkles here… brighter than she did in Cinderella with an every-girl sensibility that you long to see with each moment.  Kate McKinnon gives one of her more subdued performances to date, but still gives you quite a few laugh-inducing moments as well.

There are a few flaws to note, however. Ed Sheeran’s role was meant to be funny and self-deprecating but ends up falling slightly flat. There is also an interesting but unnecessary scene involving a chance meeting with a long-lost Beatle.  It’s cute, but it doesn’t really work all that well. Those notable instances aside, we as the audience are given a wonderful, breezy musical comedy with a sweet romance as a side dish. The film is truly a joy overall.

These are the kinds of films that I love. I often call them “nice” movies. The types of films you throw on when you want to smile or feel good.  I would put this in the same category as lovely movies like The Intern, Enough Said, or Bridget Jones’ Diary. There are a lot of things to savor here and Beatles fans, comedy lovers and love story aficionados alike will love it.

Video 

  • Encoding: HEVC/H.265
  • Resolution: 4K
  • HDR: HDR10+
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Clarity/Detail: The image is crisp and sharp throughout. No sense of detail is lost no matter what the scenery or setting may be. Faces, nature, indoor and outdoor settings are all beautifully rendered and details are in abundance throughout the entirety of the film.
  • Depth: The image has that 4K pop that you buy these discs for. Interiors are very realistic and scenes outdoors are natural and rich in the depth department.
  • Black Levels: Black levels are gorgeous, deep and pitch-perfect.
  • Color Reproduction: HDR helps bring a very beautiful color palette to the picture.  There is a golden hue in much of the film and there is a warmth to the overall presentation that is quite beautiful. You wouldn’t go to this movie thinking the color presentation would wow as it does, but it really does have that Wow factor.
  • Flesh Tones: Flesh tones are natural and rendered perfectly.
  • Noise/Artifacts: None

Audio 

  • Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (7.1 True HD Core), French and Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
  • Subtitles: English, French and Spanish
  • Dynamics: Dynamics for this mix are varied in the best of ways. Dialogue is perfectly intelligible. Music sequences are given the life they need to spread out through the sound field, sounding brilliant through the entirety of the film. Natural sounds and interior sounds and crowds also get the same loving treatment.
  • Low-Frequency Extension: Music is the main source of low end for the film and the deep bass in most of the scenes involving drumming or concerts sound spot on. There aren’t a ton of bass-heavy moments but when you hear bass it’s excellent sounding.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: Surrounds are used wonderfully in all areas. Concert scenes sound lifelike and full throughout the surround channels and quieter scenes carry a light lovely ambience that is great to hear.
  • Height: Height channels are used most of the time for those live show moments. They help accent the scenes and add a more immersive feeling to each musical performance.
  • Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is loud and clear and perfect in any channel it is in at reference volume.

Extras 

Yesterday sings its way home with a pretty excellent set of extras. The 4K Blu-ray comes with a matte slipcover, bundled Blu-ray and a digital code. The extras include:

  • Alternate Opening
  • Alternate Ending
  • Deleted Scenes
    • Corden & Roxanne – Includes deleted performance by Himesh Patel of “Something”
    • Late for School
    • Nutters Italian Ice Cream
    • Sortisimus
    • Moscow Audience
    • Alexa
    • A Gonk
    • W Hotel
    • Jack Calls Ellie
    • Hilary in the Mirror
    • Nick and Carol
    • Hazel’s Selfie
  • Gag Reel*
  • Live at Abbey Road Studios– Watch Himesh Patel perform “Yesterday”, “I Want To Hold Your Hand”, and “Let it Be” at Abbey Road Studios.
    • “Yesterday”
    • “I Want To Hold Your Hand”
    • “Let it Be”
  • Ed Sheeran: From Stadium to Screen* – Acting in his first major role, Ed Sheeran reflects on his experiences making the movie.
  • Agent of Comedy: Kate McKinnon* – Kate McKinnon shares how eager she was to play the role of “Debra Hammer” while the cast and crew reflect on the fun and energy that the queen of improvisational comedy brought to the set.
  • A Talented Duo* – Richard Curtis and Danny Boyle, two of the most successful British filmmakers, team up for the first time.
  • Playing for Real* – The re-interpreting of the Beatles songs was a huge undertaking for newcomer Himesh Patel. Learn how he spent months learning to play the songs perfectly as the production decided to take the more challenging route of recording the musical numbers live on set.
  • Soul Mates* – Beyond the music and the laughs, the film is, of course, a love story. This piece looks at the relationship between Jack & Ellie and the actors playing them.
  • A Conversation with Richard & Ed* – Long-term friends Richard Curtis and Ed Sheeran have a funny and informal chat about the making of YESTERDAY.
  • Feature Commentary with Director Danny Boyle and Writer/Producer Richard Curtis

Summary 

My little to no expectations for Yesterday may have just charmed the pants off of me. The movie is tons of fun, goes by in a nice breezy pace, and has some great performances. Himesh Patel could be a charming leading man and his singing voice is beautiful. Lily James continues to prove her worth as an actress with each new role she takes on and Danny Boyle continues to make varied and interesting films that make fans of movies eager to see his next work. One hopes that this film reintroduces music fans to The Beatles as well!  The 4K Blu-ray of Yesterday is excellent technically. The picture and sound are near reference and despite it not quite being demo material is well worth the pick-up!

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