DVD Review: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Directed By Lasse Hallström
Starring Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Amr Waked, Rachael Stirling and Kristin Scott Thomas



When a wealthy Anglophile sheikh dreams up a plan to introduce British salmon into Yemen for his fishing purposes, his consultant Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Emily Blunt) approaches stuffy fisheries expert Dr. Fred Jones (Ewan McGregor) to head up the project. He laughs it off as a ridiculous, unfeasible idea and rejects the offer, but when the Prime Minister’s press secretary (Kristin Scott Thomas) latches on to the story as the perfect opportunity to earn some Middle-Eastern PR good will, the government fast-tracks the project and strong-arms Jones into agreeing.

Saddled with a job he sees as a complete joke, working alongside a woman with whom he has nothing in common, Jones tries everything he can to wriggle out of it, but soon finds himself warming to the bonkers plan as an unlikely connection starts to blossom between him and Harriet – a romance complicated by the fact that she’s still mourning the loss of a dashing soldier killed overseas and he’s trapped in a lifeless marriage.
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Leave it to Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor to make a film all about salmon fishing so eminently entertaining. The ever-charming McGregor has fun playing against type as a crabby, sweater-wearing academic, while the wonderful Emily Blunt is predictably enchanting. The burgeoning romance between McGregor’s stodgy fish expert and Blunt’s lively, charismatic go-getter PR rep Harriet isn’t the most believable on paper, but the sparkling chemistry and witty banter between the two makes it an unlikely, but funny and riveting love story. Even more surprising is how quickly the quirky tale of dropping fish into the desert waters of Yemen becomes a gripping one that keeps you easily invested.

The film’s political satire is In The Loop lite, but delivers plenty of laughs nonetheless, owing to a scene-stealing Kristin Scott Thomas as the PM’s ball-busting press secretary, who summons up more than a bit of Peter Capaldi’s brand of hilarious one-liner laced bile.
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Funny though it might be, the film ultimately finds itself wading into waters a little too deep and becomes tonally uneven at times. Subplots involving crumbling marriages, extremist saboteurs, assassination attempts and a bit of third act death and disaster don’t sit well with the otherwise gentle, sweet and breezy tone of the movie (though McGregor disarming a would-be assassin with fly-fishing techniques provides a fun, silly moment).

Still, while it’s a little too long and unsteady in terms of tone, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is a wonderfully witty, charming rom-com with plenty of laughs and a great cast.
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The DVD boasts a lovely AV transfer, and while the extra features aren’t bountiful, there’s a couple of short features:

  • Miracles Happen: Making Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (13 mins, 9 secs)
  • The obligatory behind-the-scenes mini-documentary which offers quick interview snippets with the cast and crew, but nothing too insightful.

  • The Fisherman in the Middle East: Novelist Paul Torday (3 mins, 16 secs)
  • Author Torday talks very briefly about the origins of the book on which the movie is based and the process of adapting it to film.


The Film:

The DVD:




Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is out on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK from 3rd September 2012.
Click here to order the DVD from Amazon.co.uk.