Summer in Telluride means music. From Bluegrass to Blues and Brews, to Ride to Jazz Fest, our little town gets packed with music fans. This summer, music lovers with a taste for nostalgia can also get their music fix on the big screen. “Rocketman” stars Taron Edgerton channeling Elton John in an amazing musical and acting tour de force, and it’s still playing in some theaters. There’s a great documentary that celebrates the music that came out of LA’s Laurel Canyon, “Echo in the Canyon.” Also in theaters, another documentary looks back at David Crosby’s career. “Remember My Name” tells the story of how he survived addiction, prison and heartbreak, and is still playing music four decades later.
August brings “Blinded by the Light,” a coming-of-age film set in India. The film is inspired by the true tale of a Muslim teenager who finds himself through the music of Bruce Springsteen. There’s even a trailer for a behind-the-scenes look at the K-pop band BTS on tour. This summer there’s an unusual number of films featuring musicians or their music, in biopics, documentaries or romantic comedies.
Opening this week at the Nugget, “Yesterday” is a fairy tale set to The Beatles’ music. A romantic comedy with a simple premise: What if there was a worldwide power outage and when the lights came up, only one man remembered The Beatles and their music? Director Danny Boyle spins this charming tale of struggling singer-songwriter Jack Malick and what he does with this gift. Jack is played with good nature and much befuddlement by Himesh Patel, a British actor and writer best known for his role on the “EastEnders” films. When Jack’s unexpected good fortune makes him a superstar, he must learn to navigate fame, a greedy manager (a brittle Kate McKinnon) and how to handle advice from Ed Sheeran.
There’s a joy in watching people “discover” The Beatles songs. The snippets of the songs are played with great gusto and give you an idea of what it might’ve been like when the real songs were popular. Jack’s close friends are shown supporting him even when there’s no audience for his sets at the local pub. His parents have the realistic hope that his songwriting and performing career will end. Yet once Jack is on the path to success, it’s sweet to see their whole-hearted support. The song lyrics for “Yesterday” speak of “all my troubles seem so far away, now it looks like they’re here to stay,” but in the film the “trouble” for Jack is his failing career. Once Jack has success, his troubles seem to be over, but his travels take him away from his family and friends.
Jack’s on tour and on television, all the while he’s pretending to be this talented songwriter who dreamed up an entire catalog of big hits. Maintaining this fraud is taking a toll on him. He’s being pulled away from his family and friends and is losing his connection to the woman he loves. He has one diehard fan, his biggest supporter and first manager, played by Lily James. It’s clear that she is also his love interest but having to maintain his charade, Jack seems unable to tell her the truth. The plot drums up weak excuses to keep them apart — a stronger storyline would’ve let Jack tire of his small-town love or stray into temptation’s path, but this sweet fairy tale doesn’t dig deep. The writer is Richard Curtis of “Love Actually” fame. It’s nice that the action moves at a good pace, but there’s not enough time spent on conflict or introspection.
If you’re a Beatles fan or like British rom-coms, you’ll find this a fun, diverting film. Himesh Patel transitions from a woebegone lad playing for a few friends in a chips shop to an international superstar without sacrificing his innate niceness. The relationships feel real, the songs are performed with real heart and there are some laughs along the way.
Drinks with Films review: 2 pints of British lager out of 5