DVD Review: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

There's a quirkiness to some films that becomes all the film is about, which isn't always bad (Sunshine Cleaning, Lars and the Real Girl).  Sometimes films can actually rise above their quirkiness to achieve something even better (my fav examples: Stranger Than Fiction, Little Miss Sunshine).  While others can end up dated or don't reach a greater audience (Garden State, Rushmore).  Salmon Fishing in the Yemen falls somewhere below great and above solely quirky.  Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt both got Golden Globe nominations for their performances, which may not mean much, but did increase the recognition of the film.  While I'm sure there are other films that were equally deserving of nominations for their respective performances this year, I wouldn't argue against either McGregor or Blunt for these roles.
Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Blunt - and yes, the name becomes a big deal in the story) is an assistant for a Yemeni sheikh (Amr Waked), who LOVES fly-fishing.  Since he has enough money, and willing assistants, he wants to find out about stocking the Yemen River with Atlantic Salmon.  She reaches out to a British government employee, Dr. Alfred Jones (McGregor), an expert in fisheries.  He is completely incredulous, as there are HUGE insurmountable obstacles to the project - though he concedes that it is possible, in theory.  Thankfully, the sheikh has already overcome several obstacles - the riverbed, a damn to regulate waterflow, etc.  Since money is also no object, Dr. Jones (yes, I kept thinking Indiana the entire time) provides a list of things he'd like to happen, assuming they never will.  But Harriet is a pretty damn good assistant and the project gets off the ground.  You may be wondering why the British government is even getting involved.  That's where Patricia Maxwell (Kristin Scott Thomas) comes in - as the Prime Minister's press secretary, she wants an British/Middle East event that doesn't involve bloodshed, and encourages the Fisheries department to give the Yemeni sheikh all the help they can.
That's the quirky part of the film - watching them tackle this issue.  But there's obviously also a love story, or several as both Alfred and Harriet are with other people.  And there's also some pretty great minor moments dealing with religion and faith - the idea that you could stand for hours waiting for fish to bite a fly must have something to do with faith.  Then, during the scenes in Yemen, our British citizens comment on the different cultures of religion.  In a lot of ways, I think quirky has become the new word to describe dramas that have a little comedy thrown in.  All of the movies I mentioned above have a little of both, and usually a love story of some sort in the middle.  I wouldn't describe Salmon Fishing in the Yemen as a romantic comedy - it's not that funny, or that romantic, but it's definitely quirky, from the title through to the fish themselves.

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