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I've seldom been more torn by a film. On one hand, the concept is novel, the visuals sumptuous, the music score affecting, and much of the dialogue crackles. There were times when the movie swept me away. But the soldier boy subplot is horribly manipulative and the ending ridiculously contrived. Ewan McGregor's character should not have been married; his ache for Emily Blunt would have been more powerful if he was a lonely single man. And as appealing as they are, he did after all make a vow to his wife in the film something along the lines of staying together for better or worse. I doubt there was an opt out where "If fate should happen to throw you together with Emily Blunt, then by all means moon over her instead." The soldier boy character should have been junked too. His character makes little sense and seems shoehorned in. At one point he says something to Blunt that indicates he intends to fight for her. Then in the very next breath, without any motivation, he does a complete 180 which is jarring and untruthful. There's too much obvious "raising the stakes" in the formulaic screenplay, trying to make it all "big" and tying it in with world events. This is most exemplified in the Kristin Scott Thomas character. She proves she's a dynamic actress and that she is able to dominate a scene, but I found her overly broad, one-note and cartoonish. The movie would have worked better if it had been quieter, more intimate and indie. As it is, it's merely an excuse to pair McGregor and Blunt in a romantic setting and watch the sparks fly. And they do and that's enjoyable. There are many good films with contrived story lines, but very few great ones. Alas, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is content to fall well short of greatness.
How can this film get such a high rating?!!! No wonder we have the mess we do in the White House. Yemen is a conflict ridden country rife with drought and starvation brought on by a lack of water. But never we mind our pretty minds about that... instead, we'll put some pretty British actors in a rom-com based on a billionaire's fancy in diverting critical resources for his hobby. What is next?... Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant fall in love yet again in the backdrop of a Koch brother dreaming of bringing golf to the Amazon rain forest?!!! God help us!
I enjoy Lasse Hallström movies. Watched this one a while back but it popped up on my screen and I thought I should rate it out of love for a delightful little modern tale of heroes and heroins. As with any good story they achieve an impossible dream for the greater good, and find each other in the process. It is just too bad with the obligatory bedroom scenes although by today's standards they were quite tame. The points they illustrated in the bedroom could have been made in clever and not so lazy ways. We could have found out some other way that Ewan was in a bad marriage; that Blunt found his presence comforting--well, Ok that one was very chaste and sweet, he just comforted her, but why in bed? There were also other more intelligent ways to tell us that she felt misunderstood and alienated from her lost-and-found boyfriend. All in all, an uplifting little fable (As an aside, I was amused to learn that thousands of American tourists have tried to find "that place" where they introduced salmon into the Yemen! That we could think such place exists is a credit to the movie and to the magic of storytelling. BTW, the Yemen scenes were filmed in Africa).
Reviewed in the United States on December 14, 2017
Excellent film that focuses on two people that normally would not have met. Emily Blunt works for a company that has been hired by a wealthy man from Yemen who loves to go salmon fishing. His goal is to establish salmon fishing in his country. Ewan McGregor plays a salmon specialist who has been contacted for help with the project -and who insists the idea is completely bonkers! The movie combines humor with more serious issues (relationships, self-knowledge, and cultural change). But Emily and Ewan are at the heart of the film and it is well worth watching.
This movie had romance, humor, and drama all interconnected by an intellectual plot with amazing scenery as the backdrop. The acting was superb as well, and it's impossible not to root for this couple to get together. This movie is probably the best movie you've never heard of. All movies should be this good!!!!
-SPOILERS INCLUDED- Lightweight romantic fantasy about two people meeting while participating in a project to bring salmon farming and fishing to Yemen. Most of the film is devoted to sprightly dialog between stars Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt, setting up what seems to be an inevitable intense affinity between the two. Unfortunately, the plot bogs down when the budding relationship between them is derailed by the sudden reappearance of Ms. Blunt's boyfriend, who was presumed missing in action. His absence fuels the potential personal feelings of Blunt for McGregor as they work together to make the project a success.
Then, in a whoosh of near biblical proportions, the project -which is suddenly portrayed as successful with fish miraculously swimming upstream- is derailed by some faceless cretins with ill intent. Within 15 minutes onscreen 1) Man effectively ends marriage, 2) Boyfriend reappears, 3) fish project unsuccessful, 4) fish project successful, 5) dam release kills project, 6) boy loses girl, 7) fish reappear, 8) boy wins girl. It's way too much obvious plotting way too fast and it nearly ruins the film.
Both Blunt and McGregor are a joy to behold and are well matched onscreen. As a romantic fantasy, "Salmon" works on a superficial level, but the clumsy (and terribly obvious) last 15 minutes nearly ruins the film. Recommended as a light entertainment, however flawed.
Overall cute movie ... like a Friday night kind of movie to wind down from the week. Nothing earth-shatteringly amazing or profound, but cute romcom without being formulaic cutesy like everything else out of Hollywood (which was refreshing). Didn't like the very last scene though ... they should have left that on the cutting room floor & ended with the next to the last scene which would have been a natural ending.
5.0 out of 5 starsMarvellous Comedy with Feel Good Factor
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 28, 2018
This is a delightfully offbeat comedy about... well, about salmon fishing in Yemen. A fantastically wealthy Arab sheikh (Amr Waked) has fallen in love with salmon fishing in Scotland. And now he has hired an investment firm to find out about the feasibility of establishing salmon in the mountainous regions of his home country.
Harriet (Emily Blunt) is determined to get the sheikh what he wants. When the dour Scottish fisheries expert Dr Alfred Jones (Ewan McGregor) rather condescendingly declares the project "fundamentally unfeasible", she brushes aside his arguments with endearing optimism and the help of the sheikh's deep pockets. Add to that the Prime Minister's press officer (Kristin Scott Tomas) desperately searching for a good news story from the Middle East (and the obligatory romance) and the scene is set for much hilarity.
The script is excellent and the actors do it justice. Emily Blunt is cast, somewhat against type, as a nicey-nice and overly positive career woman, a real people pleaser, which is refreshing. The chemistry between her and Ewan McGregor is just perfect as they play off each other, initially bickering, but gradually becoming much closer. Kristin Scott Thomas, on the other hand, is just too delicious as the devious and conniving queen of spin for the government. She introduces a welcome hint of satire into a film that might otherwise have been just a little too syrupy. And while I had never heard of Amr Waked, he does a great job at making the sheikh likable and a visionary rather than an egocentric fantasist. It's nice to see an Arab actor cast in the role.
Yeah, it's a rather marvellous little film that should keep anybody happily entertained for the afternoon or evening. Highly recommended.
The DVD has subtitles for those who may need them. Also included are the following extra features: - Miracles Happen: Making Salmon Fising in the Yemen - The Fisherman in the Middle East: Novelist Paul Torday
5.0 out of 5 starsSALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN  [Blu-ray]
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 12, 2014
SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN  [Blu-ray] The British Comedy of the Year! Fantastic! Highly Enjoyable!
‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’ stars Ewan McGregor as Fred Jones, a fisheries expert who is approached by Harriet [Emily Blunt] with a plan to introduce salmon into the waterways of Yemen. Despite Fred’s protests, he soon finds himself working on a project that seems not only frivolous but absolutely unfeasible in the arid land of Yemen. But as the mission begins, they soon find that hope can spring – even in the most unexpected places!
Written by OSCAR® winning screenwriter Simon Beaufoy of ‘The Full Monty’ and ‘Slumdog Millionaire,’ directed by Lasse Hallström ‘Chocolat’ and featuring hilarious performances from the stellar cast, ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’ is an unmissable tale of overcoming the odds!
FILM FACT Part One: Awards and Nominations: 2012 European Film Awards: Nominated: People's Choice Award. 2012 Golden Globe® Awards: Nominated: Best Motion Picture for Comedy or Musical. Nominated: Best Actor for Comedy or Musical for McGregor. Nominated: Best Actress for Comedy or Musical for Blunt.
FILM FACT Part Two: ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’ was shot on location in London, Scotland, and Morocco. Scenes set in Yemen were filmed in Ouarzazate in the Moroccan Atlas Mountains. The restaurant scene in London was filmed at the Oxo Tower. The Sheikh's house in Scotland was filmed at Ardverikie House. Reshooting and water tank work was filmed at Black Hangar Studios in the UK. Principal photography started on 6 August 2011. Music for the film was composed and orchestrated by Dario Marianelli. The score features Leo Abrahams (Guitar), Dirk Campbell (Woodwind), Giles Lewin (Oud), and the BBC Concert Orchestra, conducted by Benjamin Wallfisch. The original soundtrack album was released on 20 March 2012 by Lakeshore Records. The Scottish folksong "Mairi's Wedding" by The Clancy Brothers, which is played over one scene, and "Where You Go" by The Young Romans, the song played over the end credits, are not included on the album.
Cast: Amr Waked, Emily Blunt, Catherine Steadman, Tom Mison, Ewan McGregor, Rachael Stirling, Kristin Scott Thomas, Tom Beard, Jill Baker, Conleth Hill, Alex Taylor-McDowall, Matilda White, Otto Farrant, Hamish Gray, Clive Wood, Nayef Rashed, Peter Wight, Waleed Akhtar, Steven Blake, Hugh Simon, James Cutting, Colin Kilkelly and Jorge Leon Martinez (uncredited)
Director: Lasse Hallström
Producers: Guy Avshalom, Jamie Laurenson, Nicky Kentish Barnes, Paul Webster, Paula Jalfon, Samuel Hadida, Stephen Garrett, Tori Parry, Victor Hadida, Zakaria Alaoui and Zygi Kamasa
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: In life, sometimes it's important to try new things, to grow as human beings, to attempt the impossible, to head upstream and swim against the current. You know, like a salmon. At least, that's what the characters in 'Salmon Fishing in the Yemen' learn, which is not so coincidentally, happens to feature lots and lots and lots of salmon. A charming, sweet little romantic comedy, the film is home to a wonderful cast and a fun, quirky script. While the plot does adhere to a few clichéd dramatic beats, the story's upbeat spirit and clever humour are irresistible and the journey proves to be heartfelt and entertaining.
Based on Paul Torday's novel of the same name, the film follows a Sheikh's efforts to bring salmon fishing to the Yemen and an area seemingly ill-suited for such a sport. Then we have Sheikh Muhammed's tenacious consultant, Harriet [Emily Blunt], is tasked with the impossible assignment, and soon reaches out to a fisheries expert, Dr. Fred Jones [Ewan McGregor]. At first baffled by the ridiculous notion, Jones declares the plan "fundamentally unfeasible" and wants nothing to do with it. Meanwhile, in search of a good PR opportunity, the Prime Minister's press secretary [Kristin Scott Thomas] latches onto the project, and pledges the British government's support, who I thought gave a brilliant performance, especially with her witty hilarious sarcastic comments and the best lines in the film. Now strong-armed into aiding their efforts, Jones slowly opens up to the idea. As the practical scientist begins to believe that the impossible might actually be possible, he simultaneously develops feelings for Harriet. Unfortunately, outside forces arise, not only threatening their budding relationship, but the project itself, potentially spelling doom for Dr. Fred Jones and the Sheikh Muhammed's elaborate dreams.
The script carries a fun, charming sense of humour, lifting us through a breezy, but thankfully not superficial adventure. Watching the leads attempt to achieve the impossible for the sheer thrill and magic of it all is fun and inspiring. Themes dealing with growth, spirituality, and faith are all touched upon, and the filmmakers' good-natured approach manages to be positive and uplifting without becoming saccharine or preachy. The salmon's impossible journey becomes a metaphor for Jones' own character arc, and both storylines end up fuelling most of the narrative's momentum. It might not be the deepest of allegories, but the simple parallel works very well, and the pragmatic man's potential transformation into a genuine dreamer is compelling and humorous.
Quick witted, fast-paced dialogue is prevalent throughout the runtime, and characters will often speak in cheeky formalities, displaying a very British sense of playful humour. As light-hearted as the picture can get, there is some genuine drama as well, and director Lasse Hallström does a great job of balancing the tone. Lasse Hallström also throws in a few fun visual touches every now and then you see the text from emails will appear on screen, for instance, but mostly offers a simple cinematic style that lets the whimsical story speak for itself.
Chemistry is paramount when it comes to films of this type, and Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt absolutely sparkle. Dr. Alfred Jones [Ewan McGregor] is a typical wet blanket scientist who is all business and totally out of touch with his emotions. Conversely, Emily Blunt's Harriet offers a warmer, more adventurous presence, and as soon as the characters meet, it's instantly clear that they've found their match. Both performers are incredibly likeable and their playful verbal sparring has a certain screwball charm that's infectious. Kristin Scott Thomas is also quite funny as the constantly scheming Patricia Maxwell, and Amr Waked lends Sheikh Muhammad a dignified air of wisdom and compassion.
'Salmon Fishing in the Yemen' is a simple but irresistibly fanciful beautiful film. Its sweet story is bolstered by great performances from the entire cast, and Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt make for a lovely on-screen couple. As original and quirky as the script can be, beneath the plot's outward imagination is a very standard romantic dramedy narrative. Though a few beats are a slightly contrived and predictable, the director's heartfelt sincerity and the script's witty humour saves the film from becoming too formulaic. It has some flaws, but there's just something about the film's light-hearted spirit that manages to win you over in the end and it is a joyous wonderful experience, that makes you feel glad hearted as the film credits roll up the screen and I know people who do not usually get very emotional with films like this, will definitely have a few tears rolling down their cheeks, in watching something really magical and extra special.
Blu-ray Video Quality – The Blu-ray is provided with a fantastic pristine 1080p encoded image transfer in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Featuring a nice clean look and a few impressive shots peppered throughout, the film comes to Blu-ray with a handsome transfer free of any major issues. The print is in pristine condition, and a very light layer of unobtrusive grain is visible, giving the image a natural, filmic quality. Detail wavers a bit from scene to scene, with more dimly lit sequences carrying a comparatively soft look. Bright scenes, however, feature very nice clarity, revealing many sharp textures and fine details. Shots capturing the breath-taking Scottish Highlands and majestic Moroccan landscapes (substituting for Yemen) are particularly impressive, and offer a great sense of depth and pop. Colours are rich and nicely saturated, complementing the whimsical tone of the story without becoming unnatural. Contrast levels are high but avoid blooming, and while blacks are a little inconsistent, shadow detail remains solid. Free of any unnecessary digital manipulation or artefacts, the transfer remains authentic and very pleasing. Please Note: Playback Region B/2: This will not play on most Blu-ray players sold in North America, Central America, South America, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Learn more about Blu-ray region specifications.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – The audio is presented in an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track with optional English SDH subtitles. Though a bit front loaded, there are a few lively bursts that provide a decent sense of immersion during key moments. Dialogue is crisp, clear, and well prioritized throughout. The front soundstage has some solid separation and directionality with music and speech, but for the most part, discrete and disperse effects are minimal. Surrounds are fairly quiet during several stretches, but do perk up when appropriate with some ambient sounds like background traffic, rain, wind, or buzzing flies. These instances are quite subdued but do help to enhance the atmosphere and scope of the mix. Dynamic range is wide, providing a nice gamut of distortion free frequencies. The film's climax actually features some aggressive design work and there is even some solid bass activity and the mix is very solid.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Special Feature: Miracles Happen: The Making of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen [1080p] [13:07] Cast and crew, in this fairly basic overview piece, discuss the source novel, the story's qualities and themes, casting the lead roles, character traits and relationships, filming locales, preparing for and shooting the fishing scenes, natural challenges during the shoot that actually benefited the film, and the cast's satisfaction with the film and the filmmaking experience.
Special Feature: The Fishermen in the Middle East: Novelist Paul Torday [1080p] [3:14] A very brief interview with the source novel's author is included. Paul Torday discusses the book's path to the screen, but the piece is far too short to be of much interest.
Finally, ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’ is a gentle, touching, soulful picture about accomplishing the impossible, about determination, courage, faith, friendship, love, and life. It's not so much about fishing as it faith, faith in oneself and in others, in the possibilities, in the potential to unite, to find goodness in success. It's nicely directed and very well acted. It's a light but purposeful outing, a picture that will leave audiences feeling good and believing in the power of man to come together in harmony, under a shared goal and the bond of friendship, never mind in the potential of cinema to tell well, worthy tales. LIONSGATE's Blu-ray release of ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’ comes up a bit short in terms of extra content, but the Blu-ray disc features LIONSGATE typical high quality audio and video. ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’ is a charming, well-made, and definitely must-see film; the Blu-ray does it justice totally. One bonus in getting the Region B/2 Blu-ray is the far superior Slip Cover Design cover, compared to the Region A/1 Blu-ray Cover Design. Very Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Aficionado Le Cinema Paradiso United Kingdom
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 18, 2018
A magical story in an implausible situation. I found this film to be uplifting & gentle. The characters work well together and the humour is always there. The irascible ministry man passionate about fishing. The cut throat government press secretary, out to protect the interests of the prime minister. The confused but intelligent Sheik's assistant and the Sheikh himself with his love of the sport. Mix well and you have a film that works. It's sad, romantic and funny. I have even shown it to a few friends who enjoyed this surprising little film.
4.0 out of 5 starsDelightfully entertaining quirky comedy
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 7, 2013
This review is based on having watched the film at home on Blu-Ray with my family. Watching the film motivated me to also read the book which inspired it. The first two thirds or so of this film are very true to the book, but the makers of the film significantly changed the ending.
Since explaining how the film differs from the book would be a serious spoiler for both, I am not going to attempt to do so: let's just say that the change is sufficiently radical that it will infuriate the kind of purist viewer who likes films to be true to the book which inspires them. But for balance I should add that there will be people who prefer the ending of the film to that of the book.
I would never have expected that the story of an ambitious attempt to introduce salmon fishing in a middle eastern country could be so entertaining, but it is, for two reasons. The first is the amusing depiction in both the film and the book of how and why government spin-doctors decide to force through a project which their expert advisors think is insane in the search for a "good news story." The second, specific to the film and reflecting positively on the acting skills of Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Amr Waked, and Kristin Scott-Thomas, is the delightful depiction of the interactions between the human beings involved.
The story begins as a government fisheries expert, Dr Alfred Jones (McGregor) is approached by consultants representing a Yemeni Sheik about the idea of introducing fly-fishing in the Yemen. He thinks the idea ridiculous and impractical, and says so.
However he has reckoned without the Prime Minister's dynamic press secretary (Kristin Scott Thomas). In the book this character was called Peter Maxwell and appeared to be a thinly-disguised parody of Alistair Campbell: in the film the character has changed sex but is the government's eminence grise to an even greater extent than Campbell was in real life. Patricia Maxwell is desperate for a good news story from the middle east - and introducing fishing, thus creating jobs and trade in the area, might fit the bill.
So Alfred Jones is given a choice - collect his P45 or work with the Sheik's consultants, particularly Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Emily Blunt) to try to bring salmon to the Yemen. In the process Dr Jones, who is definately not a man of religious faith, (the character in the book was a full-on Richard-Dawkins-style hardline atheist, the film character is an agnostic who has an amusing line about how when religious people go to church on Sunday he and his wife go to the supermarket) meets the charismatic Sheik Muhammed (Amr Waked), a man of very strong faith indeed, and they find they have more in common than Jones had expected, as all three work together to try to do something truly challenging ...
To a greater extent than the book the film includes a powerful love triangle: I don't want to say more than that there is a strong romantic element for fear of spoiling the story.
There are a great many comic moments in the film. Much of the humour is built around the outrageous way Patricia Maxwell is constantly trying to reorganise the world to win the government a few more votes, but there are also many amusing situations thrown up by Ewan McGregor's brilliant portrayal of an ordinary man propelled into extraordinary circumstances. There is one scene in which Jones gives a presentation of the challenges involved in the salmon project, during which McGregor deploys flipchart skills which in my professional life I would kill for.
I enjoyed this film immensely - more, in fact, than I enjoyed the book and that is unusual - and if you have the right sort of sense of humour I can recommend it.
One trivial detail of the presentation of the film, which caused me more irritation than it probably should have, came when I saw how the cast were described in the end credits. Paul Torday's original book (link
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
) was written while New Labour were running Britain and first published in the UK in 2007. The Prime Minister in the book is certainly Tony Blair. The Guardian described the book at the time as "lampooning the looking-glass world of Blairite government."
As Labour had lost power by the time the film version came out, the sensible way to play the presumed political colour of the government in the story would have been to avoid taking sides as to which party is in office so the viewer can make his or her own mind up (and probably select the party he or she likes least). The film itself largely does this. But the twit who wrote the credits described a minor character in the cast list as a "Tory Grandee" a term which apart from being at least two decades out of date seems to give a political spin as regards the colour of the government being lampooned. Perhaps a more neutral designation like "cabinet minister" (which was used for another character but could easily have been used twice) might have been more appropriate.
Overall this was a highly amusing film, especially one to watch for the acting skills of Ewan McGregor and Kristin Scott Thomas.
I managed to completely miss this one at the cinema but I'm glad I finally caught up with it on DVD. You hardly need me to review the film but it is an enjoyable story about an Arab Sheik's dream of introducing fishing to the Yemen ( as you might gather from the title) and how an initially stuffy Ewan McGregor is won over by Emily Blunt ( and who wouldn't be) and becomes enamoured both of the project and young Emily. Kristen Scott-Thomas nearly steals the whole movie as a high-flying HM Government person ( I never could quite work out what she actually was....) and it all ends well with an unfortunate boy-friend bowing to the inevitable. Miss Blunt is luminous throughout and I can understand his being a lttle miffed.... There are a few decent extras on the disc so , all in all , a pleasant evening in with an entertaining and well made film that you could happily watch with just about anybody , '12' rating notwithstanding , of course.