Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Review: 'Deadpool' Starring Ryan Reynolds, T.J. Miller, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, And Gina Carano Review: 'Deadpool' Starring Ryan Reynolds, T.J. Miller, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, And Gina Carano How Quentin Tarantino & Robert Rodriguez Made Josh Brolin's 'No Country For Old Men' Audition Tape How Quentin Tarantino & Robert Rodriguez Made Josh Brolin's 'No Country For Old Men' Audition Tape 'MacGyver' Movie Reboot And New TV Series Pilot On The Way 'MacGyver' Movie Reboot And New TV Series Pilot On The Way Josh Brolin Says He's Starring With Jessica Chastain In A Movie About George Jones & Tammy Wynette Josh Brolin Says He's Starring With Jessica Chastain In A Movie About George Jones & Tammy Wynette Watch: Robert Richardson Explains Why He Took His Name Off 'World War Z' And More In 58-Minute Cinematographer Talk Watch: Robert Richardson Explains Why He Took His Name Off 'World War Z' And More In 58-Minute Cinematographer Talk George Miller Says He Originally Wanted The Music In 'Mad Max: Fury Road' To Only Come From The Doof Warrior George Miller Says He Originally Wanted The Music In 'Mad Max: Fury Road' To Only Come From The Doof Warrior Stephen King Says Stanley Kubrick's 'The Shining' Is "Like A Big, Beautiful Cadillac With No Engine Inside It" Stephen King Says Stanley Kubrick's 'The Shining' Is "Like A Big, Beautiful Cadillac With No Engine Inside It" Review: Coen Brothers' 'Hail, Caesar!' Starring Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, And More Review: Coen Brothers' 'Hail, Caesar!' Starring Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, And More Naomi Watts Confirmed For David Lynch’s ‘Twin Peaks’ Revival; Tom Sizemore Joins Cast Naomi Watts Confirmed For David Lynch’s ‘Twin Peaks’ Revival; Tom Sizemore Joins Cast Watch: Quentin Tarantino Talks 5 Movies To Watch Before 'The Hateful Eight' In 7-Minute Video Watch: Quentin Tarantino Talks 5 Movies To Watch Before 'The Hateful Eight' In 7-Minute Video The 25 Most Anticipated New TV Shows Of 2016 The 25 Most Anticipated New TV Shows Of 2016 The 20 Best Documentaries Of 2015 The 20 Best Documentaries Of 2015 The 20 Best Films Of 2015 The 20 Best Films Of 2015 The 25 Best Action Movies Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Action Movies Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Comedies Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Comedies Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Sci-Fi Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Sci-Fi Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far Terry Gilliam Talks The "Simplistic" Films Of Steven Spielberg, Dumbing Down Of Audiences, 'Don Quixote' Start Date & More Terry Gilliam Talks The "Simplistic" Films Of Steven Spielberg, Dumbing Down Of Audiences, 'Don Quixote' Start Date & More

Review: 'Salmon Fishing In The Yemen' Is All Heart and No Brain

The Playlist By Kimber Myers | The Playlist March 8, 2012 at 5:59PM

Picking on "Salmon Fishing In The Yemen" makes us feel like a bit of a bully, as though we're mercilessly teasing that super nice but incredibly dumb girl in class. It's an affable, inoffensive British comedy that just wants you to like it so much that you can't help but snicker behind its back. Or are we the only ones who are that cruel?
2
Salmon Fishing In Yemen Emily Blunt Ewan McGregor

Picking on "Salmon Fishing In The Yemen" makes us feel like a bit of a bully, as though we're mercilessly teasing that super nice but incredibly dumb girl in class. It's an affable, inoffensive British comedy that just wants you to like it so much that you can't help but snicker behind its back. Or are we the only ones who are that cruel?

Based on Paul Torday's novel, "Salmon Fishing In The Yemen" follows the efforts of a team to bring a salmon run to the Middle Eastern country at the request of an ambitious sheikh/amateur fisherman (Amr Waked, "Syriana"). The sheikh's representative Harriet (Emily Blunt) approaches fisheries expert Dr. Fred Jones (Ewan McGregor), who initially scoffs at the idea, then is reluctantly tasked with the enormous, multi-million dollar project. Meanwhile, the British prime minister is tired of all the bad press coming out of the area, so when his press secretary Patricia Maxwell (a delightfully bitchy Kristin Scott-Thomas) learns of the undertaking, she sees it as an opportunity to drum up some good PR for the administration.

Salmon Fishing In The Yemen Ewan McGregor Emily Blunt

In case we weren't invested enough in the plight of salmon fishers in the desert, there's an unsurprising romantic subplot added to the affair. Awkward Dr. Jones bores his oft-absent wife, while Harriet spends her time panicking over the disappearance of her soldier boyfriend, who she has a very deep connection with --after three weeks of dating. Inevitably, all the talk of fish, dams and lures draws Dr. Jones and Harriet together, making the project about more than just salmon.

The original novel was composed entirely of correspondence (which we'll imagine worked on the page), and it still peppers the script from Simon Beaufoy ("Slumdog Millionaire") in the appearance of emails, texts, and messages from a snarky PM on iChat. You'd think his press secretary would warn him against being so flip in a format that could be easily passed to the tabloids, but "Salmon Fishing In The Yemen" doesn't always inhabit reality, even though its characters are dealing with problems of practicality and logistics. There are some sweet, nicely written moments here, but its charms are often dulled by the execution.

"Salmon Fishing In The Yemen"
"Salmon Fishing In The Yemen"

With its emphasis on the sentimental and relationships, "Salmon Fishing In The Yemen" is a nice marriage of subject and director with "Chocolat" and "Dear John" helmer Lasse Hallstrom. This is emotional territory he's trod before, but there are some...interesting stylistic flourishes from him and director of photography Terry Stacey ("50/50"). In theory, we can see the merits of numerous slow-motion shots of the fish (many from the creatures' perspective), but in practice, it's a dull, poorly executed effort whose special effects seems better suited to an underfunded science museum than a film with this level of talent involved. Even the normally solid composer Dario Marianelli offers an uninspired score that predictably swoons along with the film's more sentimental moments.

The gorgeous, charming McGregor succeeds in playing the wan Dr. Jones, making him believably awkward in social situations while still keeping him sympathetic to the audience and attractive to Blunt's Harriet. Like many other elements of the rushed-feeling film, their relationship isn't really developed or backed up, but both lead actors are good enough that you buy it anyway. Blunt is given less heavy lifting, but she is as solid both comedically and dramatically as audiences have come to expect. Scott-Thomas was clearly having a blast being as mean as humanly possible in a film this nice. She skirts cartoonish territory at times, but it's a good contrast to the other characters in the film.

Where "Salmon Fishing In The Yemen" fails is in its depiction of Yemen and the Middle East as a whole. It features an overly simplistic view that often reduces the region to its instability and wars, even while it's trying to proclaim the opposite. Ultimately, it wants to be an affirming story about triumph over adversity (like "The Full Monty," "The Dish," et al.), and it isn't trying to make any grand statements on politics in the area, but it comes across as reinforcing the ideas that it is ultimately against. [C+]

This article is related to: Salmon Fishing In Yemen, Review


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates