The film is not as bad as it is just plain vanilla textbook storytelling. There is nothing that makes it stand out.
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Lasse Hallström’s Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is about having faith even if you do not believe in it. That in itself are wise words to live by; but as this film shows, it does not hurt to have someone wealthy funding the whole thing when you take that so called “leap of faith”. The film suffers from many of the pitfalls that romantic comedies typically suffer from, a predictable and generic plot put together by contrived situations and outcomes.
Harriet (Emily Blunt) represents a wealthy sheik, Sheikh Muhammed (Amr Waked), who wants to introduce salmon fishing into the waters in the Yemen. To fulfill this request of his Harriet contacts a fish expert who works for the British government named Dr. Alfred Jones (Evan McGregor). When the two meet up to discuss this idea Alfred instantly shoots the idea down saying that the climate is not ideal for the fish to live in.
Upon returning from the meeting, Alfred informs his boss just how ridiculous this project is. But inconveniently his boss gives him a choice of either being a part of this project or getting fired. Alfred is upset about the circumstance even when he finds out that they will be paying him double the salary if he takes on the project. He of course agrees to work on the project. The whole scene feels completely setup and artificial.
Alfred is so off-put by this project that he does not even stop for a second to consider this challenge at all. You would think that an avid fisherman such as himself would welcome this challenge to be a part of a once in a life time opportunity. I realize that the point of this is for later on when the project succeeds that it makes a point of “anything is possible” but his character is over-dramatic and annoying.
In one scene, there was a good metaphor showing Alfred going the opposite way in a crowd. This of course represents how salmon swim upstream and against the current of the water. It was to symbolize that he has changed his opinion and attitude on the project.
Just as the two finally being making some strides on the project Harriet receives a phone call that the guy she met just 3 weeks ago is missing in action from the army. As viewers we have to pretend to care about this man who she claims as her boyfriend even though they hardly knew each other. As she is tearing up she even admits to not remembering what his face looked like. The film made a point to bring up that she does not date often but she takes a whole week off of work which is a third of the time she knew the guy.
Everything seems to just fall conveniently into place in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. Alfred and Harriet become single again at the same time, so it is easy to guess what will come of that. There always seems to be a solution to all the problems that do arise along the way making the conflicts seem little minor speed bumps.
There is one scene that in particular that can be best described as down-right laughable. The only problem is that it was not supposed to be comical. As Alfred and Muhammed are fishing a man with a gun aims to kill the sheik but Alfred notices just in time to cast his line out and hook him in the neck.
If you are in the mood for a mindless romantic comedy with a feel-good story, you could do worse than Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, but you could also do much better. The biggest problem with the film is how predictable it is. You can see what is coming next from a mile away. The film is not as bad as it is just plain vanilla textbook storytelling. There is nothing that makes it stand out.