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Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

What She said:


Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is so unfortunate to have an absolutely terrible movie title.  The title kind of says it how it is, and yes, the movie has a lot to do with salmon fishing.  But that aspect is just a platform for what is actually a delightful coming of age drama/romance. 

Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt play our main characters, Dr. Alfred Jones and Harriet Chetwode-Talbot.  Chetwode-Talbot is a consultant representing a wealthy Yemeni sheikh who is interested in sponsoring a project that would bring British salmon to his native country.  It seems like a farfetched idea, cold-water river fish thriving in a hot desert climate, but Sheikh Muhammed is willing to put up the big bucks to make it happen.  Chetwode-Talbot gets in contact with Jones, a salmon expert working for the government, who initially seems insulted by the absurdity of it all.  He immediately disregards the idea.  However, Patricia Maxwell, press secretary to the Prime Minister, gets wind of the project and thinks it would be a lovely feel-good story about British/Middle East relations.  She forces Chetwode-Talbot and Jones to come together and make the concept a reality.  In the meantime, Chetwode-Talbot and Jones both have some pretty intense challenges within their personal lives that they’re trying to work through.  Little do they know that the salmon fishing project, and their interactions with each other and Sheikh Muhammed, will allow them to move forward and grow in positive ways.

That’s the basic plotline.  The movie serves dually as a drama and also a romance.  There’s a good amount of quirky comedy in the film as well.  You can definitely feel the British influence in the writing.  It’s this uniqueness that makes Salmon Fishing in the Yemen not a rom-com.  That’s right, there’s no Jennifer Aniston/Katherine Heigl goofy fun here.  The movie is filled with more subtle nuances that make it a little bit more powerful and meaningful.  That said, it’s also not a movie that takes itself too seriously.  It simply cannot, based on how goofy some of the basic premise/plotlines are.  Kristin Scott Thomas as Patricia Maxwell is so out-of-this-world that it’s impossible to keep a straight face.  She’s insane. 

While it is not perfect, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen shows the true beauty of relationships and faith.  You will have to overlook some of its quirkiness, as it’ll throw you a couple of curveballs that you may not be prepared for.  There’s some inconsistencies in the tone; a lightness when you expect dark and at times an overdramatized darkness.  But I found myself being very forgiving of this movie’s shortcomings and ended up enjoying it immensely.  McGregor, Blunt, and Amr Waked (as Sheikh Muhammed) put in exceptional performances.  If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself entranced by the Sheikh’s wisdom.

Thumbs up.


What he said:


Salmon Fishin in the Yemen is about just that. Other than that, the only thing I knew about this movie was that I kept seeing a trailer for it before a lot of my recent rentals. I like to go fishing, but I wouldn’t say I was a fisherman; so the plot didn’t exactly sound like the most compelling material.

You see, a wealthy businessman named Sheikh Muhammad (Amr Waked) has this idea of bringing the sport of salmon fishing to his home country of Yemen. The big problem is that, well it’s Yemen and it isn’t exactly loaded with large bodies of water to serve as a suitable living environment for salmon.

This is where Emily Bount’s character comes into play. Harriet Chetwode-Talbot works for a consulting firm and the Sheikh is one of her clients. She doesn’t know the first things about salmon fishing, so she decides to consult an expert.
Ewan McGregor is the British government’s expert on all things salmon. Being a scientist – and not the best people person in the world – he laughs off a meeting request with Harriet. After some recent bad news in regards to the war in Afghanistan, the British government is looking for a feel good story to improve British/Middle Eastern relations. So when the Prime Minister’s head of PR – played wonderfully by Kristin Scott Thomas – gets wind of the Sheikh’s plan, she seizes this opportunity for this potential story. Fred (McGregor) is then forced to take part in this experiment despite his protest. He is a scientist and cannot be bothered with such things as helping a wealthy man indulge in some pointless spending spree. He believes the Sheikh is just a rich man with nothing better to do.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

He eventually meets with Harriet and Sheikh Muhammad and is convinced the plan is a genuine one. Harriet had confessed to Fred she sees the Sheikh as something as a visionary and Fred agrees; but still thinks the plan is destined to fail. I have to say that even as a member of the audience I was kind of captivated by Sheikh Muhammad as well. He is a very sincere man and has a presence about him. There is something about the way Amr Waked portrayed the character that actually made me kind of want to “follow” him. He just seemed like a real nice guy who wanted to do something positive for his country.

Not everybody shares his vision though. There are a militant group of protestors who think he is bringing foreign culture to their land and see it as an insult to both them and God. Additionally, the British government isn’t too happy about the whole thing. When they get wind that the Sheikh wishes to purchase his fish from their waters, fishermen are livid.

I was pleasantly surprised by just how much I liked this movie. It’s an excellent comedy-drama. It is a touching and funny story that succeeds on all levels. The acting is great and there are some eye-popping visuals too. McGregor was really entertaining as Fred. He is super stuff, but the kind of guy you can’t help and crack a smile at time-and-time again (think Sheldon Cooper form The Big Bang Theory). Amr Waked was simply excellent as Sheikh Muhammed. There was a real charm to this character. Kristin Scott Thomas was absolutely hilarious as the Prime Minister’s press secretary. She portrayed the type of personality that works in the political arena with such accuracy that you are a stiff if you don’t get a kick out of her.   

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was given the He said, She said seal of approval on August 13, 2012.