Sunday, March 04, 2012

“Salmon Fishing In The Yemen” – Movie Review



This weekend in my movie class, we saw a bonus screening of the romantic comedy-drama, “Salmon Fishing In The Yemen” by director Lasse Hallstrom; it stars Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt and Kristin Scott Thomas.



When a fish expert is engaged to help a wealthy Yemeni Sheik to bring fishing to the region, he reluctantly complies – but after the project results in him meeting a woman who changes his life, can he somehow manage to both win her love and fulfill the dream of the Sheik at the same time?



When Dr. Alfred Jones (McGregor) is contacted by Harriet (Blunt), the representative of a wealthy Yemeni Sheik to help her client bring the sport of salmon fishing to that area of the middle east, he flatly declines.  As a fish expert and a man of science, he knows that salmon need a cold water habitat in which to survive and the climate of the desert will not suit them because the water temperatures are far too high for the fish to be able to thrive. 

While Anglo-Arabic relations worsen in Afghanistan, Patricia (Thomas), the British Prime Minister’s hard-charging Press Officer, decides that it’s now time to seek out some kind of a feel-good story that can in some way help public relations between the two cultures.  Becoming aware of the Sheik’s desire to heighten the awareness of salmon fishing in Yemen, she forces England’s government officials to come to his aid.  As a result of this, Jones is now brought into this project, despite his opposition. 

Working with Harriet on this project, Jones eventually develops a deep attraction towards this young beauty.  In the course of trying to find a way to make this improbable venture work, Jones figures out that if the Sheik is willing to spend the considerable amount of money necessary, it just might be possible to build what amounts to a man-made river and cool the water to the point that the salmon would be able to survive.  But would he be able to overcome the objections from local Muslim fundamentalists in order to make this effort succeed – and, in the process, manage to convince Harriet that he’s truly in love with her?



The movie “Salmon Fishing In The Yemen” is adapted from a novel by the same name.  If you read it – and I hastily admit that I did not -- then you might very well notice some differences in the movie from the book.  One of the members of our movie class read the source material prior to this screening and noted that the main distinctions between the film and book were that the beginning of the novel was considerably funnier and that the conclusion of the movie was wrapped up like a neat little package while the ending in the book was substantially more ambivalent. 

As for me, I found this film to be quite an entertaining and pleasant diversion, but by no means a great film.  This ostensible chick-flick is somewhat prone to a bit of magical thinking by its characters – and the degree to which you buy into that will determine whether or not the film works for you.  Among the problems I had with this movie were certain plot contrivances concerning Harriet’s boyfriend as well as believing any kind of sexual attraction between her and Alfred.  While there was certainly a close friendship based on the situations both were thrown into, I did not really see very much of a romance between the two. 

Following the screening, our class discussion focused on whether or not the movie would be either a critical or box office success.  While the critics may favor Hallstrom because of his notable track record, the financial success of this film might wind up hinging on its stars, whose performances were arguably the best part of “Salmon Fishing In The Yemen” – especially that of Kristen Scott Thomas, who appeared in a small but nevertheless important role.  Our instructor noted that the film might have some difficulties based on its title, despite the fact that it is the exact same title of the novel on which it is based. 


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