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101 of 110 people found the following review helpful
The Yemen is a river in the country of Yemen, which occupies the south-western corner of the Arabian Peninsula. As we know, that entire middle-eastern area is hot, dry, and arid. In this Lasse Halstrom-directed dramedy, an oil-billionaire sheik from Yemen owns several estates in Scotland and has developed a fondness for fly fishing. He dreams of a way to bring the sport to his homeland and at the same time encourage his fellow countrymen to upgrade their way of life with an improved water supply.

We loved this cast (mostly) from the UK:
* Emily Blunt ("The Devil Wears Prada") is the first person contacted by the sheik. Her job is to research the practicality of the idea and make a recommendation. To complicate matters, her fiancé is soon reported missing in (military) action in Afghanistan.
* Ewan McGregor ("Beginners") is a mid-level bureaucrat with a touch of Asperger's who loves fly fishing on weekends. When approached about the feasibility of this experiment, he makes outlandish demands, assuming that their cost will deter these foolish people. He is struck dumb when his demands are met, e.g., the engineers who designed the Three Gorges Dam in China.
* Kristen Scott Thomas ("Nowhere Boy") is a blunt, plain-spoken government official who can see the public relations advantages for news from the Mid-east that doesn't include the escalating price of petroleum or body bags. She is hilarious in this (initially) preposterous plot and provides many laugh-out-loud moments. You will LOVE her e-mails!
* Amr Waked ("The Father and the Foreigner") is the fabulously wealthy sheik with the dream. It's obvious that he is intelligent and has already studied the situation. When our troubled heroine denies she is anxious, he says, "I have too many wives not to know when a woman is upset!" We can see why this actor is a heartthrob in his native Egypt.
* Tom Mison ("One Day") is our heroine's fiancé, loving, considerate AND handsome!

I haven't read Paul Torday's novel on which this film is based, but knowing salmon are anadromous, I suspect the migration to salt water would be too hot and arduous, so I personally had reservations about feasibility. On the other hand, this film had far more comedy than we expected and was far more touching as well, so eventually it didn't matter. I even got goosebumps when that fish turned around and started upstream. Nice surprise!

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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is a hard film to categorize. Directed by Lasse Hallström, with a screenplay by Simon Beaufoy adapted from the novel of the same name by Paul Torday, you could nominally call it a romantic comedy, but it's actually far more than that. A character-driven human comedy about faith, passion and fishing comes closer. Add in an absolutely scene-stealing performance by Kristin Scott Thomas as the Prime Minister's take-no-prisoners get-it-done-yesterday! press secretary and you've got Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.

The film begins with Dr. Fred Jones (Ewan McGregor), the British government's leading expert on fisheries, receiving an inquiry about the feasibility of introducing salmon fishing to the Yemen. Jones quickly dismisses the possibility, responding that it is simply impossible for salmon - a fish that thrives in cold fresh-water streams found in northern latitudes - to survive in a hot and arid environment like the Yemen. The inquiry, it turns out, came from Harriet Chetwood-Talbot (Emily Blunt), a consultant for a company that manages properties for a very wealthy client, Sheikh Muhammad (Amr Waked) from the Yemen. The Sheikh has a vision of salmon fishing, which he became familiar with due to his having an estate in Scotland, as not only a way to create much needed jobs for his people, but also as a way of bringing people together. Undeterred by Jones' initial rejection and buoyed by the persuasive Sheikh's belief in his vision, Harriet persists in pushing for a feasibility study, which Jones continues to dismiss. Until, that is, the project comes to the attention of the Prime Minister's press secretary, the highly formidable and relentless Patricia Maxwell (Kristin Scott Thomas).

A series of recent news items about bombings and other setbacks in the war in Afghanistan, already highly unpopular, has left the government desperately in need of "Anglo-Arabian news that isn't about something exploding." After tasking her staff with "We need a good news story from the Middle East, a big one, and we need it now. You've got an hour. Get on with it!" Maxwell seizes on the salmon fishing project as ideal for the government's needs and pushes it forward, riding rough-shod over any and all objections as to the project's chances of actually working. Which in turn sets everything in motion and brings all of the main characters face to face.

Ewan McGregor's Fred Jones is a man who muses "I was wondering if I was genetically programed to dull pedestrian life." He's comfortable in his government job where his biggest challenge is picking out pictures of fish to spice up his annual report; he's married but it's a passionless marriage, as becomes poignantly clear when his wife (Rachel Stirling) takes a several-months assignment in Switzerland, only bothering to tell him as she's packing for the trip. Emily Blunt's Harriet Chetwood-Talbot, on the other hand, is Fred's exact opposite, passionate in her job and in her private life where she's had a whirlwind romance with a hunk of an army officer (Tom Mison) who's just been deployed to Afghanistan. And Amr Waked's Sheikh rounds out the trio, a philosophical, quietly charismatic man who has a vision that he pursues all the more passionately because it is so impossible. A chemistry develops among the three as Fred finds himself - much to his surprise - responding to Harriet's optimistic vivacity and to the Sheikh's belief that the more impossible a thing is, the more it is worth pursuing, even when - or rather especially when - all you have to go on is faith. In addition to becoming not only engaged by but increasingly optimistic about the salmon project, Fred also finds himself coming to believe that other things are also possible as his working relationship with Harriet blossoms into something else. Between the two, Fred ends up making his own leaps of faith, with regard to the Sheikh's fantastical project and to the prospect of finding real love with Harriet.

But it is Kristin Scott Thomas' over-the-top press secretary Patricia Maxwell with her take-no-prisoners approach to everything who supplies the comedy. A powerhouse on high heels, Maxwell dominates everyone else around her, up to and including the Prime Minister himself, and she has far and away the best lines in the film which she delivers with acerbic glee - "Is that the best you cocked-up, Oxford-educated, moronic buffoons can come up with?" She also has the best scenes, like ones showing her at home where she's kicking her kids' butts at computer games or ordering them off to school, and you realize that she treats the government ministers above and around her exactly the same way as she handles her kids. And the scenes showing the IM exchanges between her icon and that of the rather hapless Prime Minister are absolutely priceless.

In addition to an engaging script and fine performances by the actors, the cinematography is also quite well done, taking you from highly diverse settings of urban London, rural Scotland and the desert wadis of the Yemen (actually shot in Morocco), all beautifully shot. The scene where the Sheikh discusses his dream project with Jones while the two are fly-fishing is imbued with a grace and tranquility gives added feeling to the Sheikh's vision and you begin to see exactly what he is talking about.

My only quibbles about the film are fairly minor. The way in which Harriet's boyfriend's ill-timed reappearance is handled is dealt with a bit too neatly and ends up feeling out of place. And the reactions on the part of the Sheikh and Jones when some disgruntled Yemenis attempt to sabotage the project seems more "message" oriented than how real people would actually react. But those aside, the rest of the film flows quite smoothly, leaving you both entertained and with more than a bit of its quietly infectious optimism.

Recommended as a quirky but highly enjoyable film and for Kristin Scott Thomas' riotously over-the-top performance.
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59 of 65 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2012
If you're going to see this delightful movie, the first thing you need to do is to shut down your critical faculties. Don't ask questions about the state of Ewan McGregor's marriage, or the logic of moving thousands of salmon, or the likelihood of a woman hugging an Arab sheikh in a Muslim country, or the ease with which people travel long distances, and so forth. It doesn't matter because the gentle tone of the movie - even with the satirical edge of Kristin Scott Thomas' extremely obnoxious but funny Assistant to the Prime Minister - just carries you away. It's sweet, it's charming, it's not cloying and it definitely draws you in to the story. This is the first movie I've been in a long time where the character of a Scot is a key plot element. [What was the name of the wonderful one years ago with Peter Resier (?) and Burt Lancaster as Texans looking for oil off the cost of Scotland?] Ewan McGregor gets to use his own Scots accent and is just wonderful and appealing in his role. Emily Blunt is also good, as she rolls with the plot.

If you're in the mood for a lovely, gently comic, romantic movie, this is the one.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2012
This is one of the best movies I've seen this year. It's fun, funny, thoughtful, well cast, great screen play.
A genuine good movie for grown ups. Not animated, not full of computer graphic cleverness, no gross gore.
Will probably purchase for personal library. Highly recommend!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Lasse Hallström, master director of such memorable films as Chocolat, The Cider House Rules, What's Eating Gilbert Grape?, The Shipping News, An Unfinished Life, Hachi: A Dog's Tale, has proven that he understands human frailty and the inherent human comedy we all experience but find so difficult to face. Working with a script by Simon Beaufoy (The Full Monty, Slumdog Millionaire, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, Yasmin, etc) adapted from Paul Torday's popular novel by the same name, and selecting a cast of some of our brightest and worthy character actors in the business, he has created a strange story that is at once full of political satire, relationship studies, fragile human frailties and hope, and in doing so has given us one of the surprise best films of the year.

Sheikh Muhammed (Amr Waked, a mesmerizingly fine actor) is a visionary sheik who believes that his passion for the peaceful pastime of salmon fishing can enrich the lives of his people, and he dreams of bringing the sport to the not so fish-friendly desert with the hope that he can make the desert green and a happy home for his people. He has an endless supply of money and instructs his representative Harriet (Emily Blunt) - a bright but relationship-anxious girl who has just started an affair with a soldier, Capt. Robert Mayers (Tom Mison, a dashingly handsome new face on the screen!) - to turn the dream into reality, an extraordinary feat that will require the involvement of Britain's leading fisheries expert Dr. Alfred Jones (Ewan McGregor) who happens to think the project both absurd and unachievable: the naive Alfred is an idealist whose marriage to his sold wife Mary (Rachael Stirling) is one rocky ground. That is, until the Prime Minister's overzealous press secretary Bridget (Kristin Scott Thomas in a brilliant character role) latches on to it as a 'good will' story. Now, this unlikely team will put it all on the line and embark on an upstream journey of faith and fish to prove the impossible, possible.

In addition to this extraordinary cast there are tasty cameo roles for Conleth Hill as Alfred's blustering Dickensonian boss Bernard Sugden among others. The concept of taking unlikely colleagues into a life changing relationship on this adventure dreamed by Sheikh Muhammed is more than tender; it is also very intelligently written romance. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, July 12
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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
"Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" is directed by Lasse Hallstrom ("Chocolat," "The Cider House Rules"). A visionary sheik (Amr Waked) believes his passion for the peaceful pastime of salmon fly fishing can enrich the lives of his people, and he dreams of bringing the sport to the not so fish-friendly desert. Willing to spare no expense, he instructs his representative, Harriet (Emily Blunt), to turn his dream into reality, an extraordinary feat that will require the involvement of Britain's leading fisheries expert, Dr. Alfred Jones (Ewan McGregor), who thinks the project is both absurd and unachievable. When British government publicist Patricia Maxwell (Kristin Scott Thomas) champions it as a good-will story, however, the unlikely team puts everything on the line to prove the impossible is possible.

Metaphorically, the movie contains the message that we can find our oases no matter the desert. Also resonating is that, with unlimited resources, the wildest, craziest dream can be pursued, if not fully realized. McGregor and Blunt are the film's best ingredients. Both have charm, and it's fun to watch the scientifically oriented Dr. Jones become immersed in politics as a romance with Harriet blossoms. However, the film drags for long stretches until a satisfactory final act. There are two bonus featurettes.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The British PM's office helps a wealthy oil sheik begin a salmon fishing operation in Yemen. The two people assisting him begin a romance, and things get complicated. This is a smart and funny romantic-comedy that will keep you laughing. The role of the British PM's communication director is particularly good as she brings quite a few comedic moments to the film while trying to get people on board with the project. As for the project assistants, two people who are at first colleagues and friends develop feelings for each other and the viewer is interested to see if they will end up together. This was a clever film that is quite funny and is one of the better efforts in its genre in recent years.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2012
This movie is the feel great movie of 2012. There are several plot twists involving love and politics which keep the viewer engaged in the film. The acting is superb! I give this movie five stars and an A+ rating. I am going to buy the blu-ray when it comes out and highly recommend you do the same!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 8, 2012
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen was so good that I mailed it to my adult kids and they
love it too....I invited neighbors over and they loved the premise and the charm....this is one movie that everyone can enjoy andrecommend to their families....I highly recommend this wonderful and charming Video...I did not know anything aboutYemen and now I would love to visit!!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on June 10, 2012
When I contemplate whimsy and fantasy, I'm transported to the mountains of Scotland or Ireland, populated with Scottish or Irish accented locals and wee folk and fairies. This little film, reminiscent of 1983 great Scottish film "Local Hero", lets an Ohio chap like myself remember the magic of the highlands of Scotland and imagine a world where we all get along and the boy gets the girl. Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt make the perfect couple and the story of East and West working together for a common cause (in this case fishing) is uplifting and hopeful. A wonderfully inspiring film.
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