Friday, April 13, 2012

Film Review | Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Image via We Live Film
After seeing the first preview for Salmon Fishing on the Yemen, I thought that it sounded interesting. I planned to see it last week, but ended up missing it. Last night, I realized that it would be leaving theaters, so I made a hasty trip to the local AMC and watched it. Needless to say, while a thoughtful and sweet movie, it certainly missed the mark. Read more using the link below due to spoilers.

Grade: D (and that is being generous)
Well, I was really being very generous in giving this a D. After rethinking about the film, I have to say that it had a lot of potential to be a good film. The plot was simple—a sheikh's plans to bring salmon fishing to the Yemen pulls Alfred (Ewan McGregor) and Harriet (Emily Blunt) into an unlikely pair. Fishing has a lot of connotations, some religious, some based upon relationships, and for salmon in particular, the idea of going against the grain. Not only did the film highlight salmon fishing and miracles and possibility, it also had a political ring given the British-Middle Eastern relationship.

Let's begin with what I believe to be Salmon Fishing's greatest downfall. Despite sweeping vistas and often witty banter, the characters were so terribly undeveloped. Alfred and his wife Mary were not particularly in love anymore, but given how little they seemed to have in common, him suddenly leaving her in favor of Harriet was sort of anti-climactic. She had been working in Geneva with little thought for Alfred anyway, so their separation meant nothing. I honestly thought that she would suddenly break the relationship. As for Harriet's relationship with the soldier (who was so pathetically thrown into the film that I cannot remember his name), it felt like a fling in many ways. In all honesty, everything was very shallow.

The next downfall is the chemistry—or lack thereof—between Alfred and Harriet. Don't get me wrong, both McGregor and Blunt acted quite nicely in the film. They are very good at what they do, but the characters they portrayed never really felt very close to me. I was actually surprised when they were suddenly in love. When the soldier was thought to be dead, Alfred suddenly rushes onto the scene to take care of Harriet, but it never seemed like anything more than a kindness.

There were many other blows to the movie—the sheikh's deep musings and lack of a true self, the politics, and the return of the dead soldier. However, there were good points to the film. Sweeping views of the landscape, crisp filming overall, and the often simple humor. The beginning started off nicely when it showed the typed correspondence very visually on teh screen. However, I don't much imagine myself watching this movie again. If you do decide to watch it, I would recommend that you do it for free.

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