Magical History Tour: YESTERDAY - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Magical History Tour: YESTERDAY

Chris Morley believes in Yesterday...

We now reach the end of our look at the long and winding career of the Beatles on celluloid with Richard Curtis daring to ask what the musical & indeed cultural landscape would be like minus their music! Directed by Danny Boyle, 2019's Yesterday is much closer akin to your standard Curtis fair than that of the man who gave us Trainspotting, 28 Days Later and 127 Hours. The film's unique world without The Beatles premise plays second fiddle to the rom-com story, and with this being Richard Curtis there's a girl involved and the chap after her is charmingly befuddled - though at least it isn't Hugh Grant, who was presumably unavailable.

Instead of Grant, we're introduced to struggling musician Jack Malik of Lowestoft, as played by Himesh Patel aka Tamwar Masood from EastEnders who in a great leap forward has gone from “get outa mah pub!”to playing to tiny crowds in them. Until he's hit by a bus during a global blackout and discovers he's the only person on the planet who can remember those four blokes from Liverpool who were a bit good at the whole music thing. Malik does what any self-respecting struggling muso would do and starts passing their songs off as his own.

Now, onto the whole “we have to have a love interest because this is Richard Curtis & its sort of his thing” thing! Mr Malik's manager & childhood friend Ellie has been the one encouraging Jack not to give up on his dreams as he makes his way in the cut-throat world of modern music, and she shows off her potential obligatory love interest credentials in setting up a session with a producer to record “his” songs.

The lucky bleeder then gets a telly slot, where he's spotted by no less than local music royalty Ed Sheeran, who invites him to be his support act at a gig in Moscow, no less. But there's little time to find out if the Ukraine girls or indeed any others in the local area really do leave the West behind, even if Ellie can't make it as she's also got a day job as a teacher and can't get the time off. His roadie mate Rocky, who rather disappointingly depending on point of view isn't a raccoon like his White Album namesake, comes along instead. Deciding he needs to test this young pretender out a bit, after their Russian performance Sheeran challenges Jack to a songwriting duel ......

Again disappointingly depending on point of view there's no actual duelling amid talk of musical honour, it's just a writing competition between the two. Bet you can't guess who wins, though? Amazingly given that his own career has somehow really taken off, Ed loses! That sneaky old Jack simply resorts to the old “nick a Beatles song and pretend I wrote it” trick, The Long And Winding Road coming up trumps for him. Off the back of which he gets signed to the same record label as the bloke he's just beaten, not entirely fair & square, and gets ready to move to LA - no fog upon it, it might be noted, as George Harrison suggested on Blue Jay Way in an early stab at weather forecasting in case the whole being a Beatle thing didn't work out.

But first, there's the small matter of a leaving party, which brings with it the patented Richard Curtis I Always Loved You You Know moment as Ellie admits her true feelings for the one-man Cheatle. It should be pointed out that in real life they never prosper, and make Paul McCartney & Ringo Starr cry. Shame on you!

Next its onto another Curtis trick. Just as he somehow made Hugh Grant's Prime Minister fall for Martine McCutcheon, another ex East-Ender, as the Downing Street tea lady in Love Actually, here he actually goes against the principle of his own film and has Jack himself forgetting the lyrics to Eleanor Rigby having been at pains for most of the narrative to stress that he's the only one who remembered them at all after that whacking great big global blackout. Silly Richard!

How best to cure himself of this bout of implausible amnesia? Unlike another of Curtis' leading men, even if it was just for one story, he can't simply hop back to the mid-Sixties and ask the younger Paul McCartney for them. So, he does the next best thing and goes to Liverpool seeking a way out of this stickiest of situations and a bit of inspiration, ending up at Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane.

And, again bearing in mind this is Richard Curtis, Ellie joins him in Scouserland for a night of getting a bit drunk & kissing, before she tells him she's not interested in a mere one night stand and leaves so he can do the leading man bit and pursue her to the train station the next morning telling her that ginger Scottish girl waiting for him in that police box is just his companion and he absolutely has to get to the bottom of the whole Krafayis thing or something like that. Worked a charm for Hugh Grant in Four Weddings And A Funeral, you know. Andie MacDowell proving incredibly sensitive to the plight of half-blind monsters & taking him right into her heart. Lovely stuff.

But predictably, Ellie tells Jack she wants no part of his new celebrity lifestyle and leaves, at which point Jack decides he doesn't like the whole fame thing so much. Worst of all, the girl of his dreams starts going out with the producer he worked with on the demo she encouraged him to make! Equally predictably his career really starts taking off at the point his personal life is unravelling, with his record label naming his album One Man Only in recognition of his singular talent.

A rooftop concert celebrates the album's launch, not at Apple Corps but in that rock & roll Mecca of Gorleston on Sea! Two fans approach Jack afterwards and tell him they know he didn't write the songs he's just performed despite no indication anyone but him remembered the Beatles up to this point, in another manifestation of Curtis's Implausibility Principle. But hey, it's OK after all! Jack gets to stick it to the man, admit he ripped off his songs and make them available to everyone over the internet. Huzzah!

Oh, & he gets to be the latest follower of the patented Richard Curtis formula - declare his love for Ellie, get married, start a family, abandon fame & be a music teacher after a pep talk from a parallel universe John Lennon, an uncredited cameo by Robert Carlyle, who reminds Jack to always tell the truth & go after the one you love.

And on that hooray/bleurgh, dependent on point of view, it's time for our yellow submarine to descend back into the briny deep of WarpedFactor Land, where we all live off a tin of Heinz baked beans, tin of Heinz baked beans, tin of Heinz baked beans as there's nothing else in the shops. Till we meet again on the long & winding road.....

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