Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) is a failed singer-songwriter, despite the best efforts of his long-term friend and manager, Ellie (Lily James). When his gig at the Latitude Festival draws a handful of kids as an audience, he decides to call it quits. On his way home, however, Jack is hit by a bus while riding a bike, due to a global power cut. He wakes up in hospital in an alternative reality.
He discovers that the blackout has wiped several things from humanity’s collective memory, including the Beatles, Coca Cola, cigarettes and Harry Potter. Jack delves into his own memory and starts playing all of the Beatles hits as his own. He quickly rises to superstar status with even Ed Sheeran (playing himself) admitting that Jack is better than him. Jack’s conscience plagues him, however, and he must decide whether to come clean and how to hold on to Ellie.
The evolution of relationships; the price of fame and fortune; personal integrity versus personal desire
Yesterday has some violence including when Jack is hit by a bus while riding a bike.
Yesterday has some sexual references. For example:
- Jack’s friend asks him if he’s been making ‘sweet love’ to his manager. Ellie responds, ‘No, never’.
- Ed says that ‘someone should shag him’, referring to Jack.
- Someone says all the girls want to sleep with Jack.
- Someone makes an offhand comment about how it’s very bad for brothers and sisters to have sex.
- Debra says, ‘Bang me backwards over a Buick …’.
- A friend tells that Jack that if he had someone like Ellie in his life, he would have ‘loved her up twice a day, like a lusty lion’.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Yesterday shows some use of substances. For example:
- Characters drinks throughout the movie at various places including at home, at a festival, at bars and on a plane.
- Jack’s friend is referred to as a ‘lazy, drug-taking drunk’.
- Jack and Ellie drink a lot on the night they first get together romantically.
- Cocaine is mentioned but not used.
Nudity and sexual activity
Yesterday has some nudity and sexual activity. For example:
- Jack and Ellie kiss passionately and fall on to a bed. Ellie decides to stop things there because she doesn’t want to have a one-night stand.
- Later Jack and Ellie kiss again. It’s implied that they have sex but nothing is shown. Jack is seen with a bare top at the window.
Coca Cola is mentioned in Yesterday, and the following products are displayed or used:
- Carlsberg beer
- Kellogg’s Cornflakes
- Costa coffee
Yesterday has quite a lot of coarse language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Yesterday is British romantic comedy in its finest form. The juxtaposition between reality and an alternative reality is cleverly done, including Jack meeting up with an older John Lennon.
Because of its content, Yesterday isn’t suitable for younger children, but teenagers and adults will enjoy it, especially if they’re Beatles fans.
The main message from this movie is that personal happiness is more important than fame and fortune.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include integrity, good moral choices, perseverance, the support of family and friends, and diversity.
This movie could also give you the chance to talk about real-life questions like the following:
- Is Jack’s decision to record the Beatles’ music as his own the right thing to do?
- What do you think about Ellie’s decision to put off having sex until she and Jack are both ready to commit to a long-term relationship?
- Are the sacrifices that people must make to lead a life of public success and fame worth it?