Salmon Fishing in the Yemen Blu-ray Review
Every once in a while a movie just flat out surprises you. It may be one that you heard about in passing, or something that you just checked out because of the star… With the number of films released each year growing, you would hope that the chance to find these gems would increase. Sadly, in my experience it seems more likely that the inverse is truer: as quantity increases, quality decreases. Thankfully this year has had more than its share of good movies. The next gem that deserves your attention, SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN (2011), is just hitting Blu-ray and despite a few issues is a very strong film.
SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN is the story of a visionary, a dream, and how faith can change your life (based on a book of the same name). Dr. Alfred Jones (Ewan McGregor of HAYWIRE) is an introverted fisheries expert for the British government who is grudgingly retained by Yemeni Sheikh Muhammed (Amr Waked from SYRIANA) to bring salmon to the Yemen, a country in Western Asia. Jones originally believes it’s a joke but when the Prime Minister’s office catches wind of a possible positive story about Anglo-Arabic relations they force his hand. He either works on this job or finds a new one.
The Sheikh acts primarily through his investment representative, Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Emily Blunt). Though Dr. Jones is diametrically opposed to the idea (believing it a waste of time), he is quickly ensnared by both Harriet and the Sheikh’s belief in the project. As he falls in love with the project, Jones comes alive. The Sheikh can see it and the two develop a fast friendship. Add romantic discord for both Harriet and Jones and you start to fall for both of them as their love for their project brings them all together.
I am not an angler, though I have enjoyed fishing in the past. SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN is the type of movie that makes me wish for more time. The scenery is beautiful and the tale incredibly (if somewhat slowly) paced to match the deliberate pace of the sport they love. The only issue that I have with the film is the strange way the director has chosen to use some artistic touches at some strange moments. One of them is immediately in the introduction of the film and is a really cool choice. Sadly it doesn’t pay off as it is the only time that it’s used.
In addition there are other stylistic choices that permeate the film in short bursts. All of these changes would be jarring and difficult to take as an audience if the actors weren’t so incredible. Director Lasse Hallström has an incredible talent putting together actors and helping their passion show on screen (despite his recent affinity with Richard Gere). Look no further than CIDER HOUSE RULES (1999), CHOCOLAT (2000) to see some other incredible pairings that seem so obvious in hindsight – the same can be seen with Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor. The love the actors share in the project and joy working on this film is evident on screen. Despite a few issues I strongly recommend SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN as really incredible and worth your time.
Video: (1080p, 2.40:1 Widescreen) The film is well presented but a few things are scratchy and don’t match the presentation from the rest of the film. This doesn’t hurt the overall tone of SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN, which is generally breathtaking.
Audio: (English 5.1 DTS-HD MA) The audio for SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN is well presented but there isn’t too much to shout about. It’s a nice presentation of a dialogue heavy drama.
Miracles Happen: Making SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN (13:07) A nice making-of featurette, but nothing outside of the norm if you’ve viewed many of these. The love that the cast and crew have for their participation in SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN is clear.
The Fisherman in the Middle East: Novelist Paul Torday (03:14) The novelist used to travel in the middle east and also loved fishing… so why not put those two things together? A quick interview with Tordnay reminds us of Dr. Jones in his deadpan delivery. An enjoyable if short supplement to SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN – but more disappointing for the lack of other special features.