Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Some days I feel like I’m being mocked by fish. As a child, I was traumatized when I was forced to consume a creamed fish dish called Finnan Haddie, which I always thought was Fin and Hattie until I just wikipediaed the name. (I envisioned a jaunty chapeau worn by a goldfish that was drenched in butter and cream that made the house reek for days). When I was pregnant with my first child, the smell of anything scale-related made me nauseous to the point that if I saw a Long John Silvers I would have to cross the street. Even now, I avoid the Shedd Aquarium.

So just the title of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen made me wonder if I should risk stacking one nausea-producing subject matter on top of a potentially shaky cam indie film. But the pull of Ewan McGregor is powerful, as powerful as the instinct of the salmon to swim upstream whether it has been born free in the icy waters of the Atlantic or raised behind bars in a fish farm. Which, oddly enough, is also the subject of the film. (Segue!)

The plot focuses on a sheik with way too much money who decides that he would like his country of Yemen to experience the delightful pastime of fly fishing. No matter that Yemen is mostly desert and salmon are not exactly indigenous to the region – he’ll just build a dam to move a river and then import 100,000 fish to indulge his hobby. The plan is exposed as being as ridiculous as it sounds by the ever charming and adorable Ewan, his Scottish accent in full force as he tries to portray a dull (as if he could be dull!), fishery expert who wants only to be left alone to tie fish flies and worry about his failing marriage. But the over-zealous press secretary of the prime minister (played by the fabulous Kristen Scott Thomas) decides that the country could use a happy story to counter all the grim terrorism news that has been coming out of the middle-east, and tells him to make it happen. Emily Blunt is the sheik’s go-between and one never doubts that she and Ewan will somehow find love amidst the obstacles as they try to put the preposterous plan in motion.

I love British romantic comedies. They tend to meander and unfold in a gentle way without using manic pacing or having the heroine do pratfalls to show how zany she is (I’m looking at you, Katherine Heigel!). There were some subtle metaphors about love finding its way upstream against all odds – well, I guess they weren’t that subtle in that it involved actual fish swimming upstream. The film is a little like fly fishing itself – there’s a lot of standing around in waist deep water, but eventually you’re rewarded by a big catch. And if that catch is Ewan McGregor, you certainly won’t want to throw him back.

Barf Bag Rating: ZERO BAGS

I am filled with both excitement and dread as I await the first showing of The Hunger Games. Early reviews have been terrific, but many mention the constant use of hand-held cameras. Will the thrill of Katniss and Peeta be enough to assuage the fear of my own special brand of bulimia that has nothing to do with The Hunger? Game on!

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1 Comment

  1. You missed the “magical negro” aspect, though. I am disappoint. (Although I liked it, and I liked that the script didn’t take the easy out of making Harriet’s and Fred’s SOs complete jerks).


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