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Argylle: What is the deal with that Beatles song, anyway?

The new Henry Cavill spy movie makes the most of licensing 'Now and Then' (some would say, more than the most)

The Beatles in Argylle
Image credit: Apple/Universal/Apple Corps

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I’ve been a Beatles fan since I was a kid; I grew up with their music — pawing at the vinyl releases of A Hard Day’s Night and With The Beatles are some of my earliest memories, as ridiculous as that sounds — and, as I came into my own as a callow youth in the Britpop days of the mid-1990s, my love for the Fab Four only grew larger. I tell you this not to boast that I am an old, wrinkled fool (although I am), but to add context to what I’m about to tell you.

There’s too much Beatles in Argylle.

Spoiler warning: the following will reveal spoilers for Argylle, currently in theaters. Stop reading now if you don’t want to know more.

Argylle cast poster
Image credit: Universal Pictures/Apple

Okay, that might not be exactly what I mean, but the Beatles’ “final song,” last year’s Now and Then is very heavily featured in the movie. It was perhaps a little too conspicuous in its first usage, soundtracking Elly Conway as she sits down to finish her latest novel — again, this was a song that was released with a high profile promotional push last year, so it’s particularly noticeable in such circumstances — but the movie goes on to triple down as it goes on.

Now and Then isn’t just Elly Conway’s favorite song, it’s also the song she and Aiden shared when they realized they had feelings for each other five years ago (because this movie takes place in the future, I guess), and the song that is used as a brainwashing trigger when made into a music box by the bad guys. It’s a song that is all over the movie, and used in very important ways, and all I could think while watching it… why?

Not just “why” in the sense of, this song was only released in November 2023, and it’s relatively unlikely that filmmakers had a copy before that so that it was part of production, given that Argylle was filmed back in 2021 — so why replace whatever song was originally in its place with this song, but also… why this particular song?

For those unfamiliar with Now and Then, it’s a mid-tempo song built out of an incomplete demo by John Lennon that lyrically focuses on lost love, romantic or otherwise. (“Now and then/I miss you/Oh, now and then/I want you to be there for me/Always to return to me,” the chorus goes.)

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For all the melancholic beauty of the song, it’s hardly an obvious choice for someone’s favorite song, or a couple’s shared song; it’s a bit of a slog, in many ways, and there are far more appropriate choices in the Beatles’ back catalog alone. So… why this one?

In the grand scheme of things, it’s the most minor, random frustration to have with Argylle as a movie, but it’s one that repeatedly rose to prominence during viewing. Of all the songs to have chosen to center the movie around, why go for something so high-profile, yet so ill-fitting - and why keep reminding the viewer what a bad choice it is?

Argylle is in theaters now. Buy tickets on Fandango or Atom Tickets.

When it comes to Argylle’s approach to continually turning the tables on the viewer, how much is too much?

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