This past March, we saw three huge blockbusters of the likes we usually see in Summer months. With The Lorax, 21 Jump Street, and, of course, The Hunger Games all doing huge business, making March look like the fifth month of the Summer blockbuster season. So, naturally, when there are so many huge Hollywood movies in one month, the smaller movies tend to slip through the cracks.
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen was such a movie. Originally coming out in limited release on March 9th, Salmon Fishing is a quaint underdog tale about two people who believed in the impossible, only to defy the odds and accomplish it.
Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Emily Blunt) has just been hired by the Sheik Muhammad (Amr Waked) to bring salmon sport fishing to the Yemen, she hasn’t a clue how to make it happen. When she approaches Dr. Alfred Talbot (Ewan McGregor), the fisheries expert for the British government, he laughs in her face, telling Harriet it’s virtually impossible. However, when the sheik is willing finance the project out of his own pocket and Patricia Maxwell (Kristin Scott Thomas), press secretary to the Prime Minister, needs a good will story to strengthen Anglo-Yemeni connections, Alfred is coerced to try to get cold water fish in one of the warm climate of the Yemen — without killing the priceless salmon or angering the local fishing community.
Famed director Lasse Hallstrom (The Cider House Rules, Chocolat) and screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (127 Hours, Slumdog Millionaire) bring author Paul Torday’s novel to the screen to a brilliant light. Hallstrom has a knack for making character-driven movies, and with Beaufoy’s beautiful script, the characters are given the room they need to grow and let things go with the flow.
Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt are perfect together here. Their timing and chemistry ignite the screen whenever they’re together, making them one of the best on-screen couples this year. But it’s Kristin Scott Thomas who steals the show as the acerbic Patricia Maxwell. Whether she’s screaming at her kids or manipulating the press to her advantage, Thomas manages to bring biting wit to the film that may not have otherwise been there before.
Though the previews make it seem more light-hearted than it is, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is still a gem to behold. The pacing is a little slow at times, but, just like fly fishing itself, if you’re a little patient, the best rewards comes.
FINAL VERDICT: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is a great underdog story with heart. If you’re looking for an alternative to big blockbuster films, Salmon Fishing is an extraordinary tale of believing in the impossible, and a heart-warming tale defying all odds.