Salmon Fishing in the Yemen 

Clever script, disparate elements

click to enlarge Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
  • Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

There’s a recurring line throughout director Lasse Hallström’s adaptation of Paul Torday’s 2007 novel,  Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, regarding what’s possible “in theory.” It relates primarily to the fanciful premise—the desire by a billionaire Yemeni sheikh (Amr Waked) with a yen for flyfishing to create a functional habitat for North Atlantic salmon in his country—but it could just as easily apply to the aspirations of the film itself.

In theory, there’s potential in the story of British fisheries civil servant Dr. Alfred Jones (Ewan McGregor)—whose marriage to a workaholic banker (Rachael Stirling) has grown as tedious as his job—assigned to assist the sheikh with a plan Jones considers absurd. It might be possible to create a connection between Jones and the sheikh’s financial manager, Harriet (Emily Blunt), despite Harriet’s still-fresh relationship with a missing-in-action British soldier (Tom Mison). And, theoretically, it might be possible to mix all that into a cocktail of pragmatic international politics, as the prime minister’s no-nonsense press liaison (Kristin Scott Thomas) tries to wrangle the sheikh’s project into some much-needed positive public relations for the Brits in the Middle East, even as the sheikh’s own people attempt to stop the project out of fear that he’s altering both the landscape and their way of life.

But, despite a frequently clever script by Simon Beaufoy (The Full Monty) and one of Thomas’ snappiest performances in years, Hallström—a director who, in recent years, has tended toward filing down the rough edges of every project he touches—can’t quite connect all those disparate elements. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen attempts to fuse tentative romance with snappy political satire, and combine a meditation on mysticism with a plot involving terrorism. The story itself may be about the collision between cynicism and faith, but jarring tonal shifts and lack of focus rarely work—even in theory.

SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN

click to enlarge 2_5_stars.gif

Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas
Rated PG-13

Twitter: @ScottRenshaw

Pin It
Favorite

Speaking of Film Reviews

More by Scott Renshaw

Latest in Film Reviews

  • A Load of Scrat

    Ice Age: Collision Course continues a franchise only because it can.
    • Jul 20, 2016
  • R We There Yet?

    Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is another "adult" comedy that could stand to grow up a little.
    • Jul 6, 2016
  • Kid Stuff

    Steven Spielberg's gifts shouldn't be taken for granted in The BFG.
    • Jun 29, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Where Are the Women?

    A critic's year-long deep-dive into the way movies portray one half of humanity.
    • May 11, 2016
  • Beasts of One Notion

    Zootopia depends entirely on its well-intentioned allegory about prejudice.
    • Mar 2, 2016

© 2016 Salt Lake City Weekly

Website powered by Foundation