Directed by Danny Boyle! Written by Richard Curtis! Featuring the music of The Beatles! These things coming together (not a Beatles pun) make the most British film that could possibly ever happen. Unfortunately, it confuses a fantastic premise with a dull rom-com plot, and the result is underwhelming.
Jack Malik is a struggling musician who is planning on giving up, and his manager and best friend Ellie is gutted he might be leaving the music game. Then, after a freak global blackout, he is hit by a bus and awakens as the only man on Earth who can remember The Beatles. This strange incident means that he effectively re-writes the songs of The Beatles and becomes a global superstar for it, all while struggling with his relationship with Ellie. Unfortunately, the film decides that following a predictable rom-com narrative will be more interesting than the fact that nobody remembers The Beatles, and that means the film falls massively flat on its face in the final act.
Playing Jack is EastEnders star Himesh Patel, who portrays Jack with a fantastically understated manor. The truly bonkers premise is reflected well in his characterisation, and he has a fantastic voice to match. Additionally, Lily James is brilliant as ever playing Ellie, the love interest, but unfortunately she is very underwritten and not given enough to do. Other stars include Joel Fry as the classic Richard Curtis sidekick (think Notting Hill), Kate McKinnon as a record producer who is entertaining but not fit to play the character she is portraying, and Ed Sheeran as himself. Robert Carlyle also stars as a character who I shall not reveal, but suffice to say it came as a twist that I did not enjoy.
The film is stylish, light in tone and features an incredible score from Daniel Pemberton (composer of ‘Into the Spider-Verse’) who uses the musical stylings of The Beatles to replicate their tone and style. Additionally, the musical sequences are brilliant, with great sound design and brilliant instrumentation. It is also a great satire on today’s music industry, demonstrating how much things have changed since the 1960’s. However, at the end of the day, it’s just a rom-com.
The concept of everyone forgetting The Beatles is one that has never been done before, and presents all sorts of challenging loop holes and alternate timelines. But this film was lazy and didn’t deal with any of that. This really disappointed me, as Richard Curtis was clearly not confident enough with his fascinating concept and instead decided to stick to his usual forte and make the whole thing a romantic tale instead. The final act doesn’t tie up or explain any of the events, how it happened or why, and instead just does the classic rom com ending that you already know. What a shame!
Overall, it’s a fun film with great tunes, but a totally wasted opportunity for what could have been an unbelievably original film. Good performances and a nice visual style can’t save it from a dull and predictable story, which seems a shame considering how unpredictable The Beatles were throughout their musical career.