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United Kingdom 2011
Directed by
Lasse Hallstrom
107 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Salmon Fishing In The Yemen

Synopsis: A fisheries expert (Ewan McGregor) is approached by a London investment consultant (Emily Blunt) on behalf of a Yemeni sheik (Amr Waked) to help realize the sheik's vision of bringing the sport of fly-fishing to the desert.

I haven’t seen Best Exotic Marigold Hotel which is doing good business around town at the moment but I’ve seen the trailer and it isn’t difficult to join the dots. Take a bunch of well-spoken, ordinary yet slightly eccentric Brits put them in an extraordinary situation in some exotic locale and watch them learn some things about themselves and each other. The result is a reassuring homily on the ultimate goodness of life, or at least, middle class life.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen might be based on the same sketch. Ewen McGregor’s Alfred Jones is a sober but vaguely dissatisfied little man living a quiet suburban existence, Emily Blunt’s Harriet Chetwode-Talbot is a pleasant but rather emotional young woman who has just met a nice soldier boy with whom she is madly in love. Fred and Harriet get caught up in a crazy scheme in a far off place and lo and behold…… well you knew where it was going didn’t you?

It’s easy to tear strips off this film – the predictable narrative, the stereotypical characters, the lushly programmatic score and the equally formulaic cinematographic style, not to mention the overarching blandness and sentimentality but that would be beside the point, which is not to stretch the envelope of our expectations but to take us on a cosy little flight from reality.

Director Lasse Hallström (The Shipping News, 2001, Chocolat, 2000 inter alia) specializes in this kind of middle-of-the-road fare and he does his job well. As a production everything stacks up neatly bar perhaps Kristin Scott Thomas doing a version of Ab Fab’s Patsy.  But it almost made me want to see Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which based on that trailer, looked at least to have had a bit of much-needed spice.

FYI: It you want to see Ewen McGregor in a structurally similar but infinitely more adventurous film then check out David Mackenzie's Perfect Sense (2011).




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