Salmon Fishing in the Yemen brings a political-spinning drama about Fred, a government fisheries scientist asked to introduce British salmon to the Wadis of the Temen by an enthusiastic Arab. When the Sheik expresses how fly-fishing draws him closer to God, Fred feels compelled to grant his wish and attempts to bring the sport to the desert, despite the absurdity and implausibility of the concept. Enticed by the Sheik’s gorgeous legal representative, the team rise to the challenge, embarking on a journey of faith, love and fish.
Director Lasse Hallstrom has a long list of films in his filmography with some of the more notable projects including ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape’, ‘The Cider House Rules’, ‘An Unfinished Life’ and ‘Chocolat’. His latest film ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’ is from the screenplay writer of both ’127 Hours’ and ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ and is based on the book of the same name written by Paul Toray.
The film centres around a fisheries scientist whom is unwillingly drawn in as part of a wider political agenda to a project to bring salmon fishing to the highlands of Yemen. Overall Hallstom has delivered a slowly paced film however the script is peppered with a quirky sense of humour which effectively shines through from beginning to end and keeps the audience amused.
Alongside its sense of humour the film is comprised of a tentative political situation driving events forward and a few other complications along the way. The film weaves the various elements of the story together mostly concentrating on the two lead characters finding themselves attached to a very strange project in a foreign country.
The cinematography in the film delivers some breathtaking scenery which serves well to enhance the performances delivered from the cast. Both McGregor and Blunt bring a delightful charm to the film which helps elevate it further than it otherwise would be and Kristin Scott Thomas brings an almost too comical role to the film but doesn’t allow things to become too outlandish.
Story wise ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’ keeps things fairly straight forward, and there is a conscious decision to only lightly address conflicts in the back story as well as having an aversion to any sense of conflict around it’s plot elements taking place under the spotlight of the film. Without any serious conflict taking place, things tend to meander along relatively smoothly without much opportunity for dramatically compelling material to be explored.
It does handle the relationship of the two lead characters effectively and develops the relationship arc quite nicely, with a slow sense of progression and attention to detail throughout the film, details which are delivered on by McGregor and Blunt whom are both excellent performers.
‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’ is an uncommon kind of film to appear on our screens in the current era of franchise focused releases, and it delivers both a quirky and easy to swallow film which is perhaps paced a little too slowly and lacks any real conflict or emotional climax leaving this one an easy one to watch, and an easy one to forget afterwards.
I’m giving ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’ 2.5 out of 5 stars, it’s released in theatres across Australia on Thursday 5th April 2012.