Wednesday, March 21, 2012

"Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" is a "kinder, gentler" thriller

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” is a big stylized “arthouse” movie from CBS, Lionsgate and the BBC, with Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom, based on the novel by Paul Torday.  In advance, it seemed surprising that so much could come from a concept that sounded “artificial”.

Ewan McGregor plays Dr. Alfred Jones, a reticent zoologist who works for the British Fisheries service. 

When his boss forces his hand to support a water  and salmon project designed by a rich sheikh  (Amr Waked), he resists, because it sounds like Middle East image politics, going against good science.  After he goes down there with Patricia (Kristin Scott Thomas), who believes she has lost her beloved (Tom Mison)  in Afghanistan, he changes heart.  He sees that the sheikh is doing this to build social capital in his community, not just to look good.

The tone of the film is laid back, and the two major attempts at sabotage, intense as they should be, tend to seem almost superfluous as a result. From a world political view, one wishes the entire Islamic world were as kindhearted as this particular sheikh. He really honors his religious beliefs in deeds.  

There’s a conversation in the middle of the film about Asperger’s that seems grating, and Alfred says that people with it are not easily offended.  Not true (personal experience).  But Alfred has to deal with others defining his goals for him.

The full widescreen scenery – the Yemen dam facility was really filmed in Morocco – is quote breathtaking. I saw this film in the Arlington AMC Shirlington on a Wednesday night before a small crowd. 

The official site is here


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