Monday, February 6, 2012

Salmon Fishing in Yemen

The debut novel from Paul Torday is the source material for the film of the same title, "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen", which was adapted for the screen by Simon Beaufoy who is received an Academy Award for "Slumdog Millionaire" (2008).
What do religion and fishing have in common? The inspiration for the novel stemmed from Torday's interest in both fly fishing and the Middle East. From these two strands, he weaves a political satire that centers on the world of political spin management. The film is directed by Lasse Hallström who brings a vibrant visual simplicity to the film.

This story revolves around a British fisheries expert, Fred Jones (Ewan McGregor), who is approached by Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Emily Blunt), a consultant to help realize the vision of a Yemeni Sheikh (Amr Waked) in bringing the sport of fly-fishing to the desert and embarks on the proverbial upstream journey of faith to prove that the absurd and impossible can be overcome. Willing to spare no expense, the Sheikh instructs his representatives to turn the dream into reality. That is, until the Prime Minister's overzealous press secretary, Bridget Maxwell (Kristin Scott Thomas), hijacks it as a 'good will' story for a vote-winning photo opportunity.

When you need a good news story from the Middle East the first thing everyone naturally does is to Google "good news story from middle east". Humor in the film comes from the most unusual of sources as Kristen Scott Thomas is the Press Secretary to the British Prime Minister has some of the better lines in the film. She also is involved with the creative imagery brought by director Lasse Hallström during online chat sequences with the British Prime Minister inquiring about his fishing abilities. There is also a poignant moment of Fred Jones walking with the foot traffic of the city and then turning around and walking against the traffic similar to how a salmon goes upstream. This imagery was symbolic of how the farm raised salmon would need to change their genetic predisposition if the project was to succeed.

As unbelievable and impossible as it may seem to bring the sport of fishing to the Middle East, the relationship between Fred Jones and Harriet Chetwode-Talbot was equally unbelievable. While the actors don't lack chemistry, it is a lack of writing necessary to develop their relationship. The ending is rather flat after a sensational conclusion to the salmon project. Perhaps it was the cast the left me wanting more substance, but ultimately this film receives 3 Quacks with the possibility of a second viewing necessary for me later to determine if a change is necessary.

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