Watching “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” reminded me that great filmmaking begins with story, script, characterization and acting.
In fact, the success of “Salmon Fishing” is the quality of its characters knit together nicely with good acting in a simple narrative that is just compelling enough to sustain most anyone’s interest.
A tough, erudite Yemeni sheikh (Amr Waked) is building a dam on the Yemen River to conserve water and irrigate surrounding areas. To popularize his plan (and because he is an avid fisherman) the sheikh wants to introduce salmon to run up the Yemen.
The salmon plan lands in the sheikh’s London consulting office, on the desk of Harriet (Emily Blunt), who promptly turns to a government fishery expert, Dr. Fred Jones (Ewan McGregor).
British hierarchy is eager to please the Yemeni, but Jones finds problems in the plan. Salmon like very cold water, which is not real common in the Mideast. They also run only in certain waters in the northern hemisphere.
Then, there is the matter of collecting and moving lots of fish, and British fishermen are real fussy about leaving their beloved salmon exactly where they are.
Round this story out with Dr. Jones’ cold, recalcitrant wife Harriet’s missing army officer boyfriend, bungling British bureaucrats and a handful of local Yemeni terrorists, and you have the entire scenario.
There is not a lot to this movie. However, it is sweet and charming, and it is well-acted with apparent ease by the principals. Noteworthy is that the Jones character played by McDowell is often unintentionally funny, and always a steadfast and true friend to Harriet.
The chemistry between the two of them is superb. “Salmon Fishing” is just a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
Jim Wigge is a Cazenovia resident and film-aficionado. After retiring from his career as an engineer, he has been reviewing movies for the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached through the editor, at email@example.com.