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Lily James and Phoebe Waller-Bridge lift the spirits: James King's Week in Movies

James King talks the best films to watch from your living room

James King

This week, a trio of great British writers: Richard Curtis returns to form with a melodic comedy, Phoebe Waller-Bridge reminds us why she’s the hottest property around and Caitlin Moran sees her bestseller transfer to the big screen. If we can’t actually go out, then at least we’ve got their great words to transport us. Enjoy! 

BEST NEW FILM TO WATCH AT HOME

YESTERDAY

National treasure Richard Curtis continues his string of charm-filled hits (Four Weddings, Notting Hill, Love Actually) with another great movie premise: what if you woke up in an alternate reality where you’re the only person who knows The Beatles? For struggling singer/songwriter Jack (ex-‘Eastender’ Himesh Patel) then the answer is simple: teach yourself the chords to The Fab Four’s finest and pass them off as your own. With tunes so catchy, global fame beckons for Jack  quicker than he can say “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”. 

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Lily James and Himesh Patel star in Yesterday

Curtis is the master of creating eccentric supporting roles and YESTERDAY doesn’t disappoint: Sanjeev Bhaskar and Meera Syal as Jack’s sweet-but-slow parents; Joel Fry as dopey best friend Rocky and even - in a bigger role than you might expect - Ed Sheeran as... Ed Sheeran. Since the film is partly a love letter to the East Anglian coastline it makes sense Suffolk’s most famous local crops up and he’s certainly willing to cheekily take the mick out of himself.

Perhaps YESTERDAY ultimately loses its way a little. The concept of a Beatles-free world raises more questions than the film answers and Jack’s childhood pal Ellie - played by Lily James - feels underdeveloped. But see this as a fairytale - as was Curtis’ last film, About Time - and you’ll fall for its simple, magical message: all you need is love.

YESTERDAY [Cert.12] is available to watch on Sky Cinema

BEST NEW COMEDY TO WATCH AT HOME

FLEABAG - THE AWARD-WINNING PLAY

With proceeds being donated to a number of charities, renting this filmed version of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s acclaimed stage show (which spawned the massively successful TV series) won’t just make you laugh and cry - it will help those affected by Covid-19 too. It’s also ideal for those of us who missed the chance to see Phoebe wow London’s West End with this performance last year. 

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Never seen Fleabag? Fear not. First conceived in 2013, the play introduces everything, from the title character’s complex emotional background to her eye-opening - and hilarious - frankness when it comes to her personal life. The way that Waller-Bridge negotiates gags one second, then something serious the next, is truly special. Who thought you could make something profound out of a joke about Zac Efron? 

READ: The best 9 new films and TV shows to watch on Netflix this week

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WATCH: The trailer for Fleabag: The Play

But perhaps the best thing about FLEABAG - THE AWARD-WINNING PLAY is this: it might be just Waller-Bridge on the stage (no ‘hot priest’ I’m afraid) but her spot-on ability to mimic other characters that weave in and out of her eventful, single girl life makes it feel like your watching a much bigger cast. Don’t be afraid that it’s ‘theatrical’ or a ‘one-woman show’. This is as electrifying as any blockbuster. You’ll be glued. 

FLEABAG [Cert.15] is available to rent exclusively on Amazon Prime

COMING SOON

HOW TO BUILD A GIRL

Based on Caitlin’s Moran’s bestseller of the same name, the film follows teenager Johanna Morrigan (Beanie Feldstein) living with her working-class family on a council estate in England with big dreams of becoming a music journalist. Alfie Allen and Emma Thompson co-star in a movie that’s already being described as the next big coming-of-age hit. 

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WATCH: How to Build a Girl's trailer

READ: Poldark's Aidan Turner as Leonardo da Vinci is the lockdown distraction we need right now - watch

HOW TO BUILD A GIRL [Cert.TBC] will be released in the UK later this year