An imperfect love letter to The Beatles

In Danny Boyle’s latest, a struggling singer/songwriter (Himesh Patel) finds himself after a mysterious, 12-second worldwide blackout (during which he’s hit by a bus) in a parallel universe where the Beatles never existed.

He writes down as many of the songs as he remembers, and is on his way to pseudo stardom, complete with a ruthless American agent (a scene-stealing Kate McKinnon), but inside he’s reluctant to claim the music as his own and live a lie. Meanwhile, his best friend/manager Lily James, with whom he maintains a professionally distant relationship despite an obvious mutual attraction, is always nearby waiting for the sap to realize she’s the one. 

On the plus side, it’s refreshingly free of explanation; you can buy into it or not. This sweet and well-meaning film skews toward the rom-com (the screenwriter is Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones’s Diary), when I would have preferred a deeper exploration of such a world. Are the Fab Four still around? What did they do if they didn’t start a band? The filmmakers should have taken it to the next level.

So, it’s far from perfect, but it remains a fun and even moving time at the flicks. As I left the theater musing on what it would be like to hear those Lennon/McCartney/Harrison gems for the first time, I felt a new appreciation for the depth and transcendence of their talent.

Oct 11 (116 min)