Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Salmon Fishing In The Yemen

Faith and Fish

Rated: PG-13   Brief language, some violence and sexual content.
Release Date: March 9, 2012
Runtime: 1 hr 51 mins

Director:  Lasse Hallström
Writers: Simon Beaufoy, novel by Paul Torday
Cast:  Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Amr Waked, Kristen Scott Thomas, Rachael Stirling, Tom Mison

SYNOPSIS:  When a sheik dreams of bringing fly fishing to the wadis of the Highlands of Yemen, a fisheries scientist find himself reluctantly involved in the project. Along the way, dreams, politics and romance go through their own upstream battles in order to make the project a reality.

REVIEW: Based on the 2006 novel by Paul Torday, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is a political satire that intertwines fly fishing, the Middle East, and the art of political spin management into a romantic comedy drama. Helmed by Lasse Hallstrom, a director of most of the existing ABBA videos and of such acclaimed films as the 1999 The Cider House Rules and the 2000 Chocolat, the 'Salmon Fishing in the Yemen' novel is adapted from Slumdog Millionaire screenwriter Simon Beaufoy.
As the British armed services enter into the fray in Afghanistan, political public relations specialist Patricia Maxwell (Kristin Scott Thomas, The Other Boleyn Girl) looks for a 'feel good' story from the Middle East to strengthen the appearance of Anglo-Middle Eastern relations. Coming across the story of a Sheikh (Amr Waked, Contagion) looking to create a fly fishing salmon running river experience in the Highlands of Yemen, Maxwell tasks fisheries expert Dr. Fred Jones (Ewan McGregor, Haywire) to theorize if it would be possible to create an environment in the Highlands of Yemen for salmon to run and spawn. The Sheikh, based on Jones' wild speculation of 50 million dollars (or more) to Fitzharris and Price Investment House project managing assistant Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Emily Blunt, The Adjustment Bureau), deposits the necessary money for the project to begin. An avid fly fisherman, Jones still has little confidence that his plan has any chance for success, but the Sheikh asks him to keep an open mind and have faith in a project that the Sheikh sees as a modern benefit for his people.  

Lasse Hallstrom treats the adaptation of Torday's novel by Beaufoy with grace and experience. The story is both fun and serious. McGregor's Jones is a man exacerbated by and quick to point out the absurdity of this project. While Jones is forced to participate in a cause he doesn't believe will succeed, the British government he works for, headed by spin doctor Maxwell, vows to move heaven and earth - or at least 10,000 British water salmon - for the sake of a positive spin photo opportunity for the country's Prime Minister and his cabinet. But as Jones' crazy plans start to show promise, he and Ms. Chetwode-Talbot start to believe in the vision that the Sheikh holds so much faith in.

Throughout the film, faith and fish take center stage. When the Sheikh asks Jones to keep an open mind, Jones' response is that he believes in science. When Jones scoffs at the Sheikh's comparison of religion with fly fishing, the Sheikh asks him why he would spend dozens or hundreds of hours fishing with patience and blind faith that he may land a fish on the end of the hook at the end of the adventure. Where is the scientific benefit in the lost hours angling in a river, the Sheikh asks. At the end of the day, will faith - coupled with science - prevail in success?

While the spin doctors maneuver through the political waters, and the scientists figure out how to maintain cool temperatures and proper oxygenation of water stemming from arid aquifers behind a dam, Jones finds himself in the midst of a failing marriage to a wife Mary (Rachael Stirling, Centurion) and Harriet finds herself agonizing over the MIA status of her new boyfriend deployed to the sandy and volatile Afghanistan region. Working side by side, Fred and Jones develop a friendship greater than their status as colleagues.

Shot on location in England and in Morocco standing in for Yemen, Lasse Hallström captures the essence and grandeur of each locale. Straight-laced Jones conforms to the rigid angles and concrete of the British cityscape, walking in step with all of the other government employee drones, bathed in modernism and cold blues. In contrast, the warmth of the Yemen deserts, the greens of the high grasses and the earthy tones of the highlands make the land's Sheikh a man to be envied to a degree.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is a heartwarming and uplifting tale of faith, self-discovery, and perseverance. Political PR reps look for opportunities. Others make their own opportunities, either through forced expertise or through faith and finance. Like the art of fly fishing, the story is elegant and graceful, filled with long-reaching subplots and the light fun whispers of the flick in the casting of the line. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is a film that, in the end, is very alluring.

WORTH: Matinee or Rental

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