Monday, August 27, 2012

Quick Cuts: "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" Movie Review by Alex Schopp

Release: 2012
Director: Lasse Hallström
Written By: Simon Beaufoy, Paul Torday
Actors: Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas, Amr Waked
Rated: PG-13
Run Time: 107 min

"Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" centers around a visionary sheik who believes that his passion for the peaceful pastime of salmon fishing can enrich the lives of his people, and he dreams of bringing the sport to the not so fish-friendly desert. Willing to spare no expense, he instructs his representative to turn the dream into reality, an extraordinary feat that will require the involvement of Britain's leading fisheries expert, who also happens to think the project is completely absurd and unachievable. That is, until the Prime Minister's overzealous press secretary latches on to it as a 'good will' story, and it becomes one of the biggest news sensations in Britain. From there, this unlikely team puts everything on the line and embarks on a fascinating journey of faith and fish to prove that the impossible is possible.

First off, if you don't have any interest in fishes or fishing, do not worry, neither do I. My family has always enjoyed various types of fishing, but I've never understood it - especially catch-and-release stuff, don't even get me started on that. But even with those qualms on the surface themes for this film, it really is an enjoyable watch. You don''t ave to have interest in the medium to care about what's happening in this film. The actual plot of fishing doesn't take too much part in the plot of the film, though with the word in the title of the film, I could see it discouraging a few people. But worry not, this one is an enjoyable fare for everyone.

Ewan McGregor stars as the man who is to bring the fish and the habitat to the desert. Now, I've never been the biggest Ewan McGregor fan - most of his performances come off as very impersonal to me - so this might be a little biased, but for my money, this was one of the better performances I've seen from the actor. He provides the perfect attitude for a man looking for something to believe in. And his new-found faith in himself, his associate (Emily Blunt) and the project itself, is a very delightful procession. In fact, the overall faith of all of these main characters in the film was actually pretty inspiring. Originally thinking it a silly plan, as things slowly start to come together, and as their desires to help each other grow, I really gained an interest in the project. The film moved at such a pace that I didn't realize how much I was investing myself in their little project until the latter stages of the film. But sure enough, when conflict hits, and the future of the project is in jeopardy, I was genuinely discouraged.

The film doesn't move incredibly fast or have much excitement around it, but it's a great inspirational tale that's, as I quote myself from a previous CinemaCast, just a delight to watch. The characters share these similar, extravagant goals, and with their faith and determinations, set out to accomplish them. There is a mini-love story between McGregor and Blunt that works well, even if the setup for such is obvious. The film plays most notably as a light-hearted drama, but also adds a decent amount of dry humor to the fold - one of my favorite scenes is when McGregor, and expert fly fisherman, whips the gun from the hand of a hostile man 50-feet away with the line of his rod. I got a few chuckles from the film, but I think it might have been more due to just my constant smilings throughout overflowing into mini laughs.

I don't know what you walk away with from this movie other than a pleasant watch, but that was definitely good enough for me. The characters are all enjoyable to watch, and even though we never dig too deep into any real dilemma or conflict, that didn't take away from what I was watching. Don't expect to be blown away, but if you're looking for a charming Sunday afternoon watch, you can't go wrong with this.