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Salmon Fishing in the Yemen - Blu-ray Review

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Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

2 stars

With Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, director Lasse Hallström and writer Simon Beaufoy cast a wide net for offbeat, quirk and whimsy. And while the odd title may suggest they’re on the right track, clearly something was lost in the adaptation from comic novel (by Paul Torday) to big screen.

Even the attraction of A-listers Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt, who have both displayed time and again, an innate ability to carry the romance, isn’t enough to cut through the story’s over-the-top attempts at satirical comedy and ridiculously unsubtle analogies. What starts out as a cheeky British comedy in the vein of something like The Full Monty, which Beaufoy also wrote, quickly devolves into a predictable, unfunny farce that could feature Simon Pegg chasing al Qaeda through Yemen. Not that there would be anything wrong with that, but that’s not the type of film Salmon Fishing looks to be. {googleads}

The title plays on the “fundamentally unfeasible” idea that a cold-water fish could survive, much less thrive, in the arid clime of a desert country facing its own up-hill struggle in a world of cultural strife. But the logistical and biological obstacles of that impossibility don’t stop the grand vision of Sheikh Muhammad (Amr Waked) who wants to bring the sport of salmon fishing to his country of Yemen.

Looking for a public relations boost to deflect from its recent involvement in Afghanistan, Great Britain takes on the Sheikh’s project behind the expertise of fishery scientist Dr. Alfred Jones (McGregor), and real-estate guru Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Blunt). Fred is eager to offer advice on why the scheme makes no sense due to the area’s inhospitable climate, while Harriet urges rationality by informing that there are parts of Yemen a bit more hospitable than most believe. Sheikh Muhammad compares the idea of standing in water for hours with the remote possibility of a fish taking the hook to the abstract concept of faith, something Fred is loath to endorse.

The film takes an enjoyable turn when Fred starts to believe that the idea could actually work. But things also get more complicated as he begins to have feelings for Harriet, which we’ve seen coming since the opening scenes. With his wife (Rachel Stirling) revealing an obnoxiously smothering side, and Harriet’s boyfriend MIA in Afghanistan, it’s just a matter of time before the story catches up to where we’ve been waiting for the last 45-minutes. What took them so long?

Via a series of not-so-subtle vignettes, the faith/fishing analogy is carried over into their budding romance, and into the friendship that develops between the Sheikh and Dr. Jones. Fred feels a rejuvenation that encourages him to embrace his passions and chase his dreams. But this is the Middle East where people don’t take kindly to anything resembling an invasion of western ideals, so trouble arises in the form of those hell-bent on disrupting the plan. But much like everything else in the film, that trouble never feels real, and results in a laughably stupid bungled assassination attempt.

Lasse Hallström has an attentive eye to the warm and human sides of filmmaking and is an expert at molding a story’s physical environment into a palpable character. Watch The Shipping News and Chocolat to be sure. Unfortunately, he does neither here and also seems totally uninterested in nurturing the lighter side of satirical humor. Instead he pounds it with a hammer.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen presented a great opportunity to cleverly mix British government, terrorists, a mystical sheikh, the art of PR, a love story, and a journey of self-discovery into a tasty stew of humor, heart, and genuine emotion. Instead this one comes out smelling like the San Francisco Marina Fishing Pier.

{2jtab: Film Details}

Salmon Fishing in the YemenMPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violence and sexual content, and brief language.
: Lasse Hallström
Writer: Simon Beaufoy
Ewan McGregor; Emily Blunt; Catherine Steadman; Rachael Stirling; Kristin Scott Thomas; Amr Waked
Genre: Comedy | Romance
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Memorable Movie Quote: "It's theorietically possible. The same way a manned mission to Mars is theoretically possible."
CBS Films
Release Date:
March 23, 2012 (Dallas)
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
July 17, 2012

Synopsis: Lasse Hallström’s charming and witty adap­tation of Paul Torday’s bestselling novel stars Ewan McGregor as Fred Jones, a fisheries expert and academic who works for the British government. When he’s approached by Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Emily Blunt) with a plan to introduce salmon into the waterways of Yemen for the purpose of sport fishing, he laughs off the scheme, claim­ing it impossible. Harriet acts as the British representative of an amiable and benevolent sheikh (Amr Waked), who fulfills his love of fishing on frequent trips to his estate in the ruggedly gorgeous Scottish highlands. The sheik believes that fishing creates a spiritual connection between humans and nature, and feels that bringing the sport to his coun­try would benefit the people.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - July 17, 2012
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
: English, English SDH, Spanish
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); UV digital copy
Region Encoding: A



  • None

Special Features:

  • Miracles Happen: Making Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
  • The Fisherman in the Middle East: Novelist Paul Torday
  • Previews

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