review: salmon fishing in the yemen (2011)

This independent romantic drama/comedy with its straightforward title and well-designed, extremely appealing film poster was very promising when browsing for a film to watch. Additionally, the fact that it features Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor as the two main protagonists boosted its appeal significantly. While plot-wise, the movie gave everything that was expected by the title, I was somewhat underwhelmed by the overall film.

The Sheikh (Amir Waked) and Fred Jones (McGregor) fishing.

The Sheikh (Amir Waked) and Fred Jones (McGregor) fishing.

A short synopsis for those who haven’t seen it:
A fisheries expert (McGregor) is approached by a consultant (Blunt) to help realize a sheik’s vision of bringing the sport of fly-fishing to the desert and embarks on an upstream journey of faith and fish to prove the impossible possible.
(IMDB)

Ok, lets start with Ewan McGregor. I fell in love with Ewan McGregor after watching Moulin Rouge. After that, watching Big Fish confirmed by love for the talented actor. Watching this though, I didn’t get the same effect. To be honest, I don’t believe I have seen any of the movies he has done in between – that would be an 11 year gap – so maybe I was just shocked at how old he looked suddenly? I was also extremely thrown off by his Scottish accent in this film, as he has assumed a strict British accent in the two films of him that I had watched, so that was very jolting. I don’t know – he had some cute moments, and settled into the cute, socially unaware science guy role nicely, but I guess I just didn’t believe his performance emotionally.

Ewan McGregor as Dr. Alfred Jones

Ewan McGregor as Dr. Alfred Jones

Moving onto Emily Blunt – the first time I really noticed her was in The Devil Wears Prada, which is probably on my top 10 list of films (no judgement please). I then saw her in Your Sister’s Sister, Looper, and then jumped back in time to her more controversial role in My Summer of Love. She is wonderful, there is no denying that, and I think she continued her streak with a solid performance here. My one critique for her part in this is not about her acting alone, but I just didn’t get the chemistry between her and McGregor’s character, Dr. Fred Jones. They don’t look right for each other, and don’t act right with each other – in my opinion. I even felt more attraction between her and Captain Robert Mayers – her boyfriend who left to serve in Afghanistan. That too – he wasn’t an asshole, and he didn’t do anything wrong to her really… I just felt bad for his character throughout the entire film.

Harriet (Blunt) and Fred (McGregor).

Harriet (Blunt) and Fred (McGregor).

Anyway, the plot was slow moving – and I found myself sort of dazing off into space at points, and then quickly being snapped back for the good parts of the movie. It was very off and on. I did like the quirkiness of the editing however. The use of crooked framing (ex. camera angle looking over the back of the computer monitor to Patricia Maxwell’s face) to the symbolic, underwater shot from under the koi pond to Fred and Mary’s disintegrating relationship, and to the quick, untidily framed shots of the IM messaging sequences worked very well in my eyes.

I really wish I liked this film better, I had such high hopes :(

just my rating: ★★★

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