Directed by Danny Boyle (“Trainspotting”) from a script co-written by Richard Curtis (“Love Actually”), 2019’s “Yesterday” is an eerie 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 passing off the Fab Four catalog as his own, but at the expense of his soul and his relationship with Ellie (Lily James), his manager and the only person who believed in him when he was a person.
The film doesn’t think much about the implications of a pop music landscape that evolved without the Beatles – aside from the non-existent band Oasis, which is a solid Gen-X burn – and when it does, the results are either tearful or macabre, rewriting history so Jack can meet one of his idols. Several actual music stars appear as themselves, including Ed Sheeran in a surprisingly big role.
McKinnon appears as Sheeran’s manager, Debra, who is interested in Jack despite her obvious displeasure with his appearance. “You’re skinny, but somehow round,” she notes bluntly. As with many of his roles, McKinnon brings the character to life through the force of his will, embellishing each line with a neurotic pause or bodily movement. Even the way she’s sitting on a couch underscores how bland a character Debra must have been on the page.