Film Review: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Although it can be cloying in its sentiment, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is a very watchable film.

Dr Alfred Jones is a fisheries expert working for the British Government. He is approached by consultant Harriet, on behalf of her wealthy  client, to bring salmon fishing to the Yemen. Alfred is initially reluctant, thinking the whole scheme is absurd. As he becomes more involved, he has a change of heart…

Written by notable screenwriter Simon Beaufoy, based on Paul Torday’s novel, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen works well as a drama. The central narrative of the burgeoning friendship between Alfred and Harriet is well written and convincing. Some of the subplots, however, could have been better executed. The troubles that Sheikh  Muhammed has, for example, are underdeveloped and seem to appear only to give this character a more integral role. The side strands are simply less polished than the central narrative.

The two main characters in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen are sufficiently absorbing to carry the film. The friendship develops at an appropriate pace; the interactions seem natural. Sheikh Muhammed is a more ambiguous character. Functioning mostly as a facilitator, he appears almost selfless in his intentions. This makes him less convincing, although rather interesting as the wise sage archetype.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen features some amusing moments, but overall the emphasis is on drama rather than comedy. The cinematography works well to capitalise on some beautiful landscapes. Production values are good, apart from some inauthentic-looking CGI effects.

Ewan McGregor is strong as Alfred. It is refreshing to hear the actor playing a Scotsman; a rarity among his more recent roles. Emily Blunt delivers a good performance also. Blunt is in danger of being typecast as the upper-class English lady, however. Amr Waked is fine as Sheikh Muhammed, while Kristin Scott Thomas provides good comic support.

Despite some flaws, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is a well produced drama. Audiences are unlikely to be too disappointed by what it offers.