HTS Moderator , Reviewer
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=9026[/img]Title: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Starring: Ewan MacGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Thomas, Amr Waked
Directed by: Lasse Hallstrom
Written by: Simon Beaufoy (screenplay), Paul Torday (novel)
Studio: Sony Pictures
Runtime: 107 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: July 17th, 2012
HTS Overall Score:77.5
Lasse Hallstrom is known for his deeply emotional film making style. “Hachi: A Dog’s Story” and “Dear John” are both extremely over the top emotionally and heavy on the romance. In "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen," Lasse has tamed his traditionally sappy stories into a much more subdued and subtle romance about life, faith, and….fish. Instead of focusing on the romance between two people, we are actually focused on a much larger canvas. Hallstrom delves into two people's lives, exposing their troubles as well as the baggage they bring with them, and expands it into a much more encompassing tale of faith. Faith to be someone they didn’t think they could be, faith to believe in the impossible - faith to give up all they’ve known and go for something outside their comfort zone. The film isn’t all deep and gloomy though. There is a light, airy feel to it which is both intimate and playful at the same time.
When the film starts, the U.K. and the Yemen Republic aren’t on the best of terms. The U.K. has sent troops into that region in a botched special operations attack that has left both sides at odds with one another. Patricia Maxwell (Kristen Scott Thomas), special foreign relations head to the Prime Minister, is desperate to find some sort of publicity stunt that will draw attention away from the disaster and try to bridge the gap between both countries. By chance she stumbles upon a plan for a Sheik of Yemen (Amr Waked) to import the sport of salmon fishing to the desert of Yemen, proposed by one Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Emily Blunt). Shiek Muhammad already has dammed up a large water supply and has the money ready to import salmon and supplies, but no one is willing to take on the seemingly doomed project. Latching on to the fishing proposal as a last ditch effort, Patricia forces the leading Salmon expert in England, Dr. Alfred Jones, to work with Harriet and proceed with the hair-brained excursion in hopes of mending the rift between the two nations.
Dr. Jones makes no effort to disguise the fact that he is against the proposal from the start. Being a rather stick-in-the-mud, humorless scientist with a marriage falling apart from the inside out, Alfred sees absolutely no benefit to the project. In his own words it is “unfeasible. Fundamentally unfeasible." Harriet, on the other hand, is his antithesis. Bubbly and full of energy, she firmly believes that salmon fishing can be brought to the Yemen where the fish will not only survive, but thrive and grow. However, tragedy befalls the pair just as they are leaving. Harriet’s boyfriend of three weeks is listed as MIA in that same botched military excursion that raised tensions in the first place. Alfred’s wife decides to go off on a business trip without giving any heads up, pretty much putting the final nails in their marital coffin.
Once arriving in Yemen, they meet Shiek Muhammed, an enthusiastic salmon fishing aficionado and a firmly religious man. As time goes by, our three unlikely compatriots form a bond, between two of them a bond of love, and between the other a bond of friendship which gives birth to one of the most unbelievable accomplishments in that area.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=9029[/img]“Salmon Fishing in Yemen” is not a love story. It is a story about life. It is a story that shows what friendship and faith can do to a relationship. As much as it is not a deeply religious movie, faith itself is the CORE of the film. Faith that can allow something great to happen, faith to allow oneself to do something they didn’t think possible, and it is the building block of a romance between two unlikely people. I usually don’t care for romantic dramas, being that they are usually filled with clichés from beginning to end, and the “twist” is always seen a mile away. However, in this case, the story is so much more. Handled delicately, “Salmon Fishing” balances dramatic tragedy, a subtle and beautiful romance, and a dash of comedy to keep things light and enjoyable. The film is beautifully shot and expertly acted by two great actors. Ewan MacGregor completely becomes Alfred Jones. Whether it be his shy self-blooming into so much more, or the man tortured by his dying relationship with an inattentive wife, we see his emotions shift and churn just under the surface of that stoic face. Emily Blunt has always brought a sense of charm and style to whatever she acts in, and here she is no different. Harriet is enthusiastic and full of life, radiating that same sense of eagerness and joy to all those around her, infusing, if you will, new life into her surroundings. Lasse Hallstrom and his crew did an excellent job here, and deserve all the praise given them.
Rated PG-13 for some violence and sexual content, and brief language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=9028[/img]Sony is known for treating their blu-ray transfers rather well, and "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" is no exception. The picture is pristine with nary a hint of digital manipulation. The blacks are incredible, deep and inky with no black crush whatsoever. Facial detail is excellent, and we are privy to copious amounts of outdoor shots of the Yemen countryside. Rolling sand dunes and flowing rivers wind their way throughout the picture. Close up are by far the shining moments here, where we get to see water rolling off of river rocks and leaving tell tale water streaks down the sides, mineral deposits lightly peppering the ground by the edge of the water. Being that we have a large amount of the movie spent outside, colors are lush and rich throughout, greens of the flora and fauna along with the bright yellows and browns for which a desert landscape is famous. The only problem that I had with the picture was some occasional softness, mostly on long shots, never intrusive or annoying, but still there.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=9031[/img]As one can expect from a dialogue heavy film, most of the audio comes from the score and the dialogue itself. Dialogue is excellent and clean. Dynamic range is spot on, with the volume never needing to be raised to facilitate hearing the actors deliver their lines. Flowing water is serene and gentle, flowing throughout the film creating a beautiful and quiet atmospheric sound. There is of course very little LFE implemented in the track, however it does push its way in a couple of times, the main one being a rushing wall of water thundering down the walls of a Yemen canyon as well as the heavy "thumping" of a helicopters rotor blades. However, the real gem in the aural arena is the score. Haunting and melodic it entwines us to the characters, painting a picture of beauty and longing for something more. Keeping itself just in the background it doesn't try force the audience into feeling something or telling them what the next scene will become (which is the case with so many scores), but rather gently guides and supplements the story while keeping itself in the background and out of the lime light.
• Miracles Happen : Making "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen"
• The Fisherman In the Middle East : Novelist Paul Torday
• Sony Previews
"Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" is a sweet story, not about fishing itself, but about faith. Faith to do something greater than oneself, faith to go on in the midst of adversity, and faith that you're doing the right thing even if you can't see it just yet. A well directed, and even better acted, film, "Salmon Fishing" manages to blend drama, comedy and romance without delving into the cheap and cliched nature into which dramedies tend to devolve. I personally have some reservations on the romance that developed between Harriet and Alfred due to Alfred being married, but the romance itself was genuine and REAL, not some dime story romance or one built upon lust and "instant attraction". It's a light and airy film that deals with real life feelings and emotions along with the child like joy of being a part of something, something you never thought possible. Highly recommended for a fantastic date night or a night at home by oneself. Mix the sweet story along with great picture and audio, and we have a winner folks.
Recommendation: Watch It