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“Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” – Review (SO-SO)

March 28, 2012

“Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” was one of those movies where the trailer just didn’t do it for me. It looked like any other bland romantic dramedy that ultimately uses the same familiar from time and time again. It’s a movie that I wouldn’t be paying to see at first. Lucky me, I get to go to free press screenings (thanks Dan). And, after seeing this film, I’m happy to report that I liked the movie. It surprised much in the same way as “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” did.

Both films are produced by the U.K.; they both contain strikingly witty humor, and have a soft spot for the sentimentality of it all. However, “Salmon” seems to struggle in the third Act where it becomes victim to some predictable plot points. Which is a shame since the entire movies overall story and title mind you rely on the final Act (most films do). Sure the acting was solid, and the audience was charmed without a doubt, the movie does take some daring choices in style and substance that I wasn’t really expecting.

A visionary sheik (Amr Waked) believes his passion for the peaceful pastime of salmon fishing can enrich the lives of his people, and he dreams of bringing the sport to the not so fish-friendly desert in Yemen. Willing to spare no expense, he instructs his representative to turn the dream into reality, an extraordinary feat that will require the involvement of Britain’s leading fisheries expert, Dr. Alfred Jones (Ewan McGregor), who happens to think the project is an absurd joke and unachievable at best. That is, until the Prime Minister’s overzealous press secretary, Patricia Maxwell (Kristin Scott Thomas), latches on to it as a ‘good will’ story to benefit the countries doom and gloom perspective on the war in the Middle East. Joining Dr. Jones is the woman who discovered him for the project to begin with, Harriet (Emily Blunt); this unlikely team will put it all on the line and embark on an upstream journey of faith and fish to prove the impossible, possible.

The movies dry wit and all together blunt sense of humor is charming to say the least. The audience ate it all up, and I’ll admit it, I did too. The story isn’t bad; I like how these polar opposites, Alfred being an uptight, married, scientist, whose only friends are fish, & Harriet as a free spirit, who believes in the impossible, come together and some how form a bond that is stronger than the current salmon swim up on. Amr Waked plays an insightful character, who’s always got something to say about ‘faith & fish’, hhmm, perhaps the title of a book in a Christian Science bookstore?

Needless to say, the movie takes some questionable turns; assassins vying to kill the sheik, weird-editing styles of text bubbles popping out of nowhere, and a poorly executed terrorist plotted sabotage during the climax of the film. But, the one thing that really bothered me was the subplot of Harriet and her army-enlisted boyfriend. It takes all the typical run of the mill turns and results in the formulaic conclusions that’s been done countless times before. Why couldn’t the boyfriend just stayed dead? In fact, Alfred makes a comment in the exact same sense!

“Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” is by no means a perfect date movie, well, I guess it depends on the couple, there are a lot of Emily Blunt & Ewan McGregor fans out there, and the romance portion really doesn’t flourish till the last 20 mins of the film, but it does hold up on certain levels. In the end it all comes down on the mood of the viewer, are they in the mood to see a gentle romantic dramedy or do they wanna see “The Hunger Games”?

GRADE: C+

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