By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Four Beers) –
Alfred Jones (Ewan McGregor) is a fisheries scientist tasked by the British Government with helping a Yemeni Sheikh (Amr Waked) introduce British Salmon to the highland rivers of Yemen. He receives help from Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Emily Blunt), a spunky foil to his nerdy skepticism. Over time Alfred falls in love with Harriet, and the salmon project. While the Salmon is a cold-water fish he finds that, given the proper preparations, the fish just might stand a chance.
Yemen is a small Middle-Eastern Country that is best known to American audiences as “that place Samuel L. Jackson made a movie about, that one time”.
As seen in this “in no way out of context” video clip…
Common geographic knowledge of the region suggests that the introduction of salmon is an impossible feat. However, I give the filmmakers credit to selling the concept. Amr Waked’s performance as the fly-fishing Sheikh is particularly engaging in this aspect. He is a visionary man, who wishes far more from his project than fishing, he wants to build a dam to encourage irrigation farming, and to bolster his nation’s economy against the rapidly declining oil trade. He also sees it personally as a way to bring peace between extremist factions. You cannot help but empathize with this character’s passion. Ewan McGregor is also quite engaging and quite funny as the young scientist, and the story as it takes him full circle from cynic to believer is well told.
On the other hand, the romantic subplot with Emily Blunt is hopelessly clichéd, Albert is married and Harriet has a boyfriend fighting overseas in Afghanistan. Naturally in this sort of movie, her boyfriend goes missing in action, and it falls on Ewan McGregor to comfort her, and that comfort turns to love. I read that this is based on a true story; if this romance and the details about it are accurately depicted, then I apologize in advance for saying that all of this feels false (a Google search turned up no immediate details). Ultimately, the attempt to bring this kind of “date movie” angle to a true story feels more exploitative than hardcore-pornography.
I… might be exaggerating a bit.
Coming from a family of fisherman, I’d have liked the film to have spent more time exploring the logistics of converting a trickling riverbed into a flowing stream, suitable for sustaining living North-Atlantic salmon. The topic feels glazed over by the romantic subplot, which as discussed above, is weak at best. It is the moments the film spends dealing with this fishy problem that Salmon Fishing in the Yemen shines, and shows the potential it nearly fulfilled. There are thankfully enough of these moments to warrant a viewing, but there could have been so much more. As every full-grown grizzly bear knows, salmon is serious business.
Bear tested, Momma Bear approved.
Attention film producers, there are no “Target” stores in Great Britain, and the looping you did over “Tesco” is pretty obvious. I’m aware that there aren’t any “Tesco” stores in the United States, but the joke still would have worked in the context of the scene. If you’re in the UK, or another country that didn’t do this, consider it a 3 beer movie.
Watchable enough, with some really great moments, and a clever concept, spoiled by genre convention.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for every use of the word “theoretical”
Take a Drink: any time Ewan McGregor calls Emily Blunt’s character by her full hyphenated name (Chetwode-Talbot)
Drink a Whole Beer: because fuck it, I still can’t get over the dubbed-in “Target” reference.
Drink a Shot: when they shut up for once and actually try to catch a bloody fish (two shots when they catch one)