From the director of What's Eating Gilbert Grape, The Cider House Rules, Chocolat and The Shipping News comes Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, a low-key romantic drama about two people who find chemistry through the oddest of avenues: a project to introduce salmon fishing into the deserts of Yemen. Hence the title.
Ewan McGregor stars as salmon expert Dr. Alfred Jones, who is recruited by the British government to help Yemeni Sheikh Muhammed (Amr Waked) plan and execute what appears to be an absurd and impossible project. He forms a close bond with British liaison Harriet (Emily Blunt), though their relationship is tested by a variety of circumstances both within and outside their control.
Like wives and terrorists.
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is just like the title suggests: sort of interesting, sort of forgettable. It's a sweet drama that relishes in simple, believable moments; while it slowly builds toward its inevitable conclusion, the movie avoids the typical romantic antics that plague Hollywood films. The relationship between Blunt and McGregor develops in a realistic fashion, the best moments the smallest of ones.
The movie is subtle in its approach, which has its positives and negatives. Its lack of melodrama is refreshing and preferable to what Hollywood normally produces, but it also doesn't leave much of a lasting impression. It's good while it lasts, but when it's done, it's done.
The film's only real shortcoming is the small elements about terrorism. It is nice to watch a movie about the Middle East that doesn't have to do with terrorism, and for a while Salmon Fishing in the Yemen follows that course. But then the story turns in that direction, a direction that feels out of place and largely unnecessary.
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is a fun, breezy film that works more often than not thanks largely to the chemistry between McGregor and Blunt, but the movie lacks the bite necessary to make it a romantic drama that stands the test of time.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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