Movie Review: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen ***

April 5, 2012 by James Berardinelli - Reelviews
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Arguably, the biggest hurdle to clear for Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is its title…writes James Berardinelli.

Let’s be frank – how many viewers will be excited by the prospect of seeing a movie about salmon fishing in the Middle East? And the name is neither allegorical nor misleading. This film is in fact about salmon fishing in Yemen. (I don’t know why it is referred to as “The Yemen” – never heard that one before.) But it’s also a ridiculously sweet love story and a light drama about people opening up and embracing faith. Call me a sentimentalist, but I enjoyed myself – even during the scenes when there was a lot of talk about fish.

It’s not a stretch to say the movie works in large part because of the charm and sparkle of the three leads: Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, and Kristin Scott Thomas. McGregor plays Dr. Fred Jones, a fish expert with Asperger’s (suddenly a popular condition for movie characters) whose marriage to Mary (Rachael Stirling) has grown stale. Blunt is Harriet Chetwode-Talbot, the British representative of a very rich sheikh (Amr Waked) and the lover of a British officer (Tom Mison) who has been declared MIA in Afghanistan. Scott Thomas is Bridget Maxwell, the P.M.’s publicity officer, who sees the election and P.R. implications of every incident. Fred and Harriet are thrown together when they are recruited to work on the sheik’s dream project of “importing” salmon fishing to Yemen. Fred, while admitting it’s “theoretically” possible, likens it to a manned mission to Mars. Nevertheless, he is intrigued and accepts project management for the massive, 50-million pound endeavor. Along the way, he and Harriet fall in love, but their relationship is fraught with difficulties no less daunting than getting farm-raised salmon to run upstream in the mountains of Yemen.

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