Lasse Hallström is the director of one of my favorite films, My Life as a Dog, and he’s done good films in the past like Chocolat and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?, in addition to every. ABBA. music. video. ever, but lately, he’s moved to doing films like, wait for it, Dear John. So I was a little worried about his most recent film Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, starring Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt.
Ewan McGregor plays Fred Jones, a fisheries expert who might have Asperger’s (the film doesn’t make it completely clear, but Wikipedia says he does), who is approached by Emily Blunt’s character, Harriet Chetwode-Talbot, a representative of a Yemeni sheikh who loves salmon fishing and wishes to introduce salmon into the Yemen River. Lots of witty banter ensues between Jones and the woman with the ridiculous last name and several other folks about how impossible this project will be, but Jones is finally forced onto it.
And, of course, they fall in love.
McGregor and Blunt have natural chemistry, so it’s nice to see them paired together on screen. However, the movie does not feel the need to be anything more but a, dare I say, cute romantic comedy. I agree with Roger Ebert here, who says that based on the ridiculousness and almost Fitzcarraldo-esque madness of the plot’s premise, it could have been a brilliant comedy in the right hands. Although Hallström has shown talent in his previous films, he holds back a little bit in this one, deciding to play it safe rather than embrace the film’s potential eccentricity.
Despite this, it is not a bad film, and is satisfying enough despite the lack of substance. For those who like predictable romantic comedies, it may be a great time, and I enjoyed it for the most part despite being a little disappointed. Now that we have this out of the way, can you please tell me why anyone would ever be interested in fishing?
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is directed by Lasse Hallstrom (My Life as a Dog, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?, Chocolat), starring Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Amr Waked. 107 minutes long. Rated PG-13.