Starring: Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas
Director: Lasse Hallström
Running Time: 112 mins
Salmon Fishing In The Yemen is a British film about the ambitious project initiated by a wealthy sheikh to transport salmon to his home in Yemen to create local fishing opportunities, and how an awkward intellectual and romantically frustrated office worker came together.
For a film that follows the story of a preposterous project and an equally unfathomable romance, I was hugely surprised by how much I loved Salmon Fishing In The Yemen. Its exotic setting and narrative quirks may occasionally prove irritatingly cheesy, but it impresses with great performances across the board, enjoyable and sweet humour, and a clever satire on the farces of politics and international relations in the modern day.
First off, though, one of the things to really note about this film is the fact that you’ll have an entirely different response depending on your expectation. On the one hand, if you’re looking for a full-on romantic drama, then you’ll be satisfied, although some of the political satire and project management might prove a little dull.
On the flipside, there’s a lot to gain from Salmon Fishing In The Yemen away from the romance, principally in the form of clever and funny political satire throughout. It’s not a biting, pointed satire, but it mocks elements of modern politics and international relations and their reliance on the media, with a number of superficial photo ops making for great laughs here and there.
And that’s what I really liked about Salmon Fishing In The Yemen, the fact that it has a good balance between the enjoyably sweet romance and something a little more unique. Again, there are elements of its story that are pure cheese – and if you know anything about fish and/or multinational infrastructure projects (a common combination), then there’s a lot about the film that will just seem utterly ridiculous to you.
However, even that isn’t much of an problem thanks to the film’s impressive sense of humour. Sappy romantic dramas can come under a lot of fire for telling preposterous stories, but when they’ve got a funnier, lighter side, then a little bit of cheese and ludicrousness is no big issue.
A lot of the humour comes from the satirical side of the story, with a hilarious turn from Kristin Scott Thomas as the Prime Minister’s press officer. However, Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor’s likable chemistry and haphazard experience with the sheikh’s outlandish project also helps to showcase the film’s more fun-loving side, something that makes an enormous difference when it comes to liking a story that, in a more serious guise, would have been a roundly painful watch.
Overall, then, I had a really nice time with Salmon Fishing In The Yemen. It’s not a perfect movie by any means, but it has a brilliant combination of clever satire and sweet romance, all brought together with great humour and likable performances throughout, which is why I’m giving it a 7.7.