Film: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011)
Cast includes: Ewan McGregor (The Ghost Writer), Emily Blunt (The Young Victoria), Amr Waked (Syriana), Kristin Scott Thomas (The English Patient)
Director: Lasse Hallström (The Cider House Rules)
Screenwriters: Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire)
Genre: Comedy | Light Drama | Romance (111 minutes)
"Dear Dr. Jones, I act on behalf of a client, who has indicated a desire to introduce the sport of salmon fishing into the Yemen..." "Dear Ms. Chetwode-Talbot, Permit me a word about salmon... (blah, blah, blah... all in a thick Scottish accent)... regret that we are unable to help." Despite Dr. Jones's strong discouragement, Harriet Chetwode-Talbot isn't planning to give up on this "plainly ridiculous idea," but for now she's headed off on a date with her "soldier boy" -- they're "just friends." In the meantime, the British press office really needs a positive story from the Middle East to dilute the code red news out of Afghanistan, "something racy for the YouTube generation." When Alfred Jones is approached again, he wants to know, "Did I miss April Fools Day this year?" "It's a matter of H2O. Fish require water, Ms. Chetwode-Talbot." At a meeting in her office, Dr. Jones points out that "Scotland... where Scottish salmon come from... is cold... the Yemen is hot." That should do the trick!
Dr. Jones doesn't take this idiotic idea seriously until someone in the "busy body government" makes it a requirement of his continued employment. "This is a bloody joke. I have standing in the scientific community," Jones tells his wife. "You have a mortgage," she counters. "Maybe we should have a baby. I could stay home and take care of the nipper." But that idea is obviously less likely than salmon fishing in the Yemen. So back to work on the salmon project. Harriet wants to know if it's possible. "Theoretically, it's possible, the same way it's theoretically possible to send a manned mission to Mars." "So it is possible!" That's exactly what Harriet needs to hear. It isn't until Harriet and Alfred meet with Sheikh Muhammad that the project starts to feel real, even as Albert feels like he's swimming upstream.
"You must have faith, Dr. Alfred," says the Sheikh. But Alfred is a man of science. "How many times do you go fishing until you catch a salmon?" the Sheikh asks. "Maybe, hundreds," says Alfred. "Yet, you have faith," the Sheikh replies.
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is a beautiful, magical, witty fairytale for grown-ups. The clever dialog is wonderfully crafted, and Ewan McGregor's delivery is nothing short of magical. Even though Harriet and Alfred seem totally mismatched, cosmic forces appear to be bringing them together. Somewhere along the line, they stop being Dr. Jones and Ms. Chetwode-Talbot and become Fred and Harriet. Somewhere along the line, salmon fishing in the Yemen stops being a bloody joke and becomes a mission of faith.
4 popped kernels (Scale: 0-4)
It's hard not to fall in love with this magical, improbable fishtail.
Distribution: Mainstream limited release
Tempo: Cruises comfortably
Visual Style: Nicely varnished realism
Character Development: Engaging
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Pure entertainment
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You may also want to read about:
The Ghost Writer
The Young Victoria