SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN

 

SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN

 

By Gary Murray

 

Starring Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas and Amr Waked

 

Written by Simon Beaufoy

 

Directed by Lasse Hallstrom

 

Running time 111 min

 

MPAA Rating PG-13

 

Selig Film Rating FULL PRICE

 

 

The plot of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is about salmon fishing in the Yemen.  A sheik (Amr Waked) has a wonderfully crazy idea—he wants to bring sport fishing to the desert.  He has the money to make it happen.  He gets his representative Harriet (Emily Blunt) to go to England to turn his dream into reality.

 

Harriet meets a new guy who is a soldier and they have a romantic date.  Just as they get comfortable with each other, he is sent to the Middle East. The blooming relationship is snipped almost before it has begun to flower.

 

In a show of good will, a press secretary for the Prime Minister Patricia Maxwell (Kristin Scott Thomas) sees all the PR benefits to the salmon scheme and pushes Dr. Alfred Jones (Ewan McGregor) to pursue this seemingly impossible folly.  He is a fishing and game expert who thinks that the Sheik’s plans are madness. There are problems with running pattern of the fish, climate zones and local hostilities on both sides of the issue.  As much as he thinks it is a fool’s folly, he is pushed to see the task completed

 

Dr. Jones is married but not happily.  He and his wife Mary (Rachael Stirling) live together but there is no magic in their relationship.  Though they share a house, they do not share a home.  She is just as busy with her career as he is with his.

 

There are obstacles for everyone involved.  Harriet is told that her beau is missing and presumed dead and she doesn’t know how to deal with it.  Dr. Jones sees all the hurdles involved with the project, the naysayer who knows that the salmon fishermen of the UK do not want to share their sport fish with others.  Patricia gets political pressure to make the entire project work.

 

The more that Harriet and Dr. Jones work together, the more they find common ground.  All of this leads down the romantic trail to an ending everyone sees coming.  There are few surprises in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen but the film is not about the outcome but the journey.

 

The director of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is Lasse Hallstrom.  He is the man behind Chocolat and Cider House Rules, both films with a social conscious.  This film does not have that strong moral backbone but it does have the charm of a romance film.  Hallstrom finds two winning characters, both slightly incomplete and pushes them to become whole by coming together as one  This is a veteran film maker more going through the ropes than making a film for the ages.  It delivers everything one would expect with this type of movie, but one expects more from such a lauded director.

 

The screenwriter is Simon Beaufoy who won the Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire.    While not up to that standard, the film still has its charisma.  He takes two likeable characters and pushes them together and the magic just happens.  He can thank his cast for that.

 

Emily Blunt has been making inroads with US audiences and this will win her even more fans.  She is charming and off-putting in the same beat, finding the questioning aspects of a character at a crossroads never realized.   It is a very full character and the young actress makes the most of the material.  Ewan McGregor is much more of an acquired taste as an actor.  While he does a strong job with the role, he just doesn’t deliver that magic spark he showed in such films as Down with Love, Moulin Rouge! and Big Fish. This seems much more like he is going through the motions than giving it his all.

 

In the final analysis, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is my favorite film of 2012 (so far) with a solid shot to be placed on the best of list for the end of the year.   It is a long way to the end of 2012 and things may change in the next 9 months, but this is all in all an enjoyable journey and a fine bit of film making.

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