Directed by Danny Boyle (“Trainspotting”) from a screenplay co-written by Richard Curtis (“Love Actually”), 2019’s “Yesterday” is a strange beast.
Struggling British songwriter Jack Malik (Hamish Patel) is hit by a bus during an apparent global blackout, and when he wakes up in hospital he has entered an alternate universe where The Beatles never existed. Jack seizes the opportunity to become rich and famous by claiming the Fab Four’s catalog as his own, but at the cost of his soul and his relationship with Ellie (Lily James), his manager and the only person who believed in him , when he was a nobody.
The film doesn’t think much about the implications of a pop music landscape that’s evolved without the Beatles — barring the band Oasis, which doesn’t exist, which is a solid Gen X brand — and when it does, the results are either sob or scary to rewrite history so Jack can meet one of his idols. Several true music stars appear as themselves, most notably Ed Sheeran in a surprisingly big role.
McKinnon stars as Sheeran’s manager Debra, who takes an interest in Jack despite her apparent displeasure with his looks. “You’re thin but kind of round,” she states bluntly. As with many of her roles, McKinnon brings the character to life through sheer force of will, infusing each line with a neurotic pause or body movement. Even the way she sits on a couch emphasizes what a boring character Debra must have been on the site.