Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor in "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen."

This article and the one below both revolve around fish stories of a sort.  While “Ruggles of Red Gap” is a “fish out of water” story, “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” is also a “fish” story, albeit one that is actually motivated by salmon.

“Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” is a multiplex film that a. did not destroy my hearing with over zealous sound effects and b. had interesting characters and told a completely enjoyable tale.  “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” is a romantic comedy ab0ut media manipulation that stretches credibility but never to the point of going over board.    “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” stars Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt and Kristin Scott Thomas.  Thomas is right on target as Patricia Maxwell, a “spit and polish,” overly zealous press agent for England’s Prime Minister.  Her mission is to salve a British public sick and tired of the War in Afghanistan.  She orders her minions to find good news coming out of Afghanistan.  When that does not work she latches on to the story of an Arab oil sheik,  Sheik Muhammed, charmingly played by Egyptian actor Amr Waked.   The Sheik, as per the movie’s title, wants to be a fly fisherman in the desert.  The obvious problem is how to build a river, much less get salmon to spawn upstream, in the middle of a desert.  Maxwell ignores  such practicalities, seeing only a needed, manufactured media event.  In addition, Maxwell reasons that if this miracle can be brought off it would be a huge photo opportunity for the Prime Minister to go to Yemen and fish.  By doing so he would curry favor with Britain’s 10,000 fly fishing enthusiasts.  The only problem is that the Prime Minister does not know how to fly fish…but he is willing to learn.

Blunt plays Harriet, the sheik’s representative while McGregor plays Dr. Alfred Jones, a disbelieving government fisheries expert who, under orders from Maxwell, must work with Harriet to create this next to impossible media event.  McGregor begins as a government nebbish but soon his character soon becomes imbued with an easy going charm.

Media narratives get framed and re-framed as bureaucrats and fly fisherman all take sides while a minor miracle hangs in the balance.  Real world considerations, cultural mores and politics are taken to pleasant, if not always plausible, levels. If I am permitted me one more fishing analogy, under the assured direction of Lasse Halstrom “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” leans strongly to the sentimental side…without ever capsizing.

“Salmon Fishing in the Yemen,” director Lasse Hallstrom, 2012,

CBS Films, 107 minutes, PG-13

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About unpaidfilmcritic

Up until 2009 Seth Shire spent nearly two decades in the New York film industry as a post production supervisor of feature films. Highlights include working on the films of Martin Scorsese, James Toback and Spike Lee. Since leaving the film industry Seth has expanded into new and varied areas where he has found a great deal of satisfaction. Seth currently teaches in the Sociology Department of CUNY Queens College. His courses include "Mass Media and Popular Culture," "Introduction to Sociology," and "Sociology of Cinema" where he is a very popular teacher. Seth is also the film critic for "Town & Village," a Manhattan weekly newspaper, a position he has held for the past six years. Seth gives back to his community through volunteer teaching at Manhattan's "The Caring Community," a center for senior citizens, where he teaches a very popular course on documentaries called "The Golden Age of the Documentary. In the fall of 2010 Seth taught "Critical Reading and Writing" at Parsons School of Design. He has also taught "Cinema Studies" at the New York Film Academy. Seth lives in Stuyvesant Town, in Manhattan.

Posted on April 2, 2012, in New and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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