Dr. Alfred Jones:”I don’t know anyone who goes to church anymore. On Sunday we go to Tesco.”
The utterly heartwarming, very British and charming tale of one man’s dream to be able to do good for his own nation by starting with salmon fishing in Yemen, a fisheries expert’ s eye opening journey and young woman’ s faith in something impossible unfolds in the gloom of British skies and under the Yemen sun glare. Harriet (Emily Blunt) is wonderfully stubborn to manipulate with and convince Dr. Jones (Ewan McGregor) to get involved in something impossible looking that seems to only work in theory.
Simon Beaufoy has managed to turn Paul Torday’ s novel into a quirky and witty screenplay with bringing in the passion of fly-fishing and marrying it to eco-issues of the modern world. With the grand cast of actors such as Blunt, McGregor, Amr Waked (sheik) and Kristin Scott Thomas (Bridget) it is almost impossible to imagine how one could mess up. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen offers rather classical storytelling, which against all odds seems to work and come across and tastefully built continuous line rather than making the story look like “just another Hollywood rom com “ sleaze and bundle of clichés. I would still classify the film as a romantic comedy, but in the best possible sense (I cannot actually believe that I mean it!). The dialogue is throughout sharp, somewhat dry and ironic with lot of very British elements to it. Kirstin Scott Thomas offers highly pleasurable role as a particularly cynical press agent for the Prime Minister trying to smoothen the relations and news feed with Middle-East, which to my eyes was the best character in the entire film.
The same way the storytelling style does not offer anything new and unconventional for the viewer, general cinematography too stays rather classical and safe. Yes, there are some money shots with mainly…well….fish in it, which would probably make you rise an eyebrow. However this would be pretty much it. Nothing spectacular and unseen, yet again, for some reason, the film stays tasteful and offers relaxing feel-good hour and a half. Being rather cynical myself, what comes to romantic comedies, I must admit, Swedish director, Lasse Halström succeeded to make me laugh out loud more than once and I left the screening room with smile on my face. It is an easy and enjoyable entertainment for anyone who appreciates a good spoonful of some ironic comedy.
The only two things that left me feeling slightly uncomfortable were the rather weak build up to Alfred’s and Harriet’ s love story and the fact that I didn’t really notice the musical background that I usually always seem to point out. It is interesting though, as it might have two reasons behind it: it was either brilliantly done and positioned or there was just not enough of musical background. I don’ t think that whoever goes to see Salmon Fishing in the Yemen will get what they were looking for.
I certainly didn’t.
I got more.
I was pleasantly surprised and now I am just wondering if it’ s as funny to American audience as it was for me personally, or if the film only works for me because I am soaked in UK’ s sense of dry humour?!
All in all, I wouldn’t say it was a masterpiece, but Salmon Fishing in the Yemen certainly was worthy of my trip down to the screening room. It was a lovely and relaxed Saturday afternoon. It was the pumpkin pie after the dinner. Nothing too plain and nothing life changing. Just bang in the middle with the good after taste.