These reviews are filled to the brim with the dreaded spoilers!
I mean ...why would you read a lengthy review if you wanted to avoid spoilers? Just saying.

REVIEW: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011)

"I took a fish head out to see a movie"
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen sounds like it ought to be fun. There's an element of quirkiness in the title, there's a pretty strong pair of romantic leads. It's a shame we don't get to see any of it.

Now, to be fair, I wasn't exactly expecting a deep, evocative drama with heartfelt observations of the state of the world and matters of the heart or anything. All it's meant to be is some semi-sweet little story, where something probably inspiring happens and everyone goes home happy. Also fishing will be involved, I guess. That's about all I was counting on.

I mean, even if the story skews away from a happy ending and the characters fail at whatever their goals are, everyone involved probably learned something about themselves and grew from the experience. I mean, this movie - literally the whole story - is about someone trying to help someone else put fish where there should be no fish. Sounds like it should be a good time, right?

Man, I wish it was.

A third of the runtime is just Ewan McGregor's character Alfred Jones drawing easy-to-follow diagrams and complaining about how impossible this project is while his superiors tell him to shut his damn mouth and try harder because there's political relations to be had and they just like how cute he looks when he's flustered. Then the fishing-obsessed Sheik delivers a couple of killer monologues about how awesome fishing is, which are actually the highlight of the whole film.

Seriously, if the things he says somehow don't make you want to at least consider going for a short fishing trip, you don't have a heart.

"Wanna hear something about fishing and faith that will blow your mind?"

Then we get a downright obtuse and unnecessary love triangle (square?) between Jones and his wife vs Emily Blunt and her dead soldier boyfriend which ... honestly? Comes out of fucking nowhere. Aside from two preliminary meetings between romantic leads Jones and Harriet, these two barely have any screen time together, and even though we see him once thinking she looks pretty in an evening gown, there is no point where I could see the love switch get flipped for either of them.

Jones' marriage is clearly in a bit of a rut, but it's hardly clear there was any serious troubles going on there. He's definitely unhappy and the change in perspective plus a bunch of fishing monologues must have been a welcome slap in the face that caused him to crave something new, but suddenly deciding he's in love with Harriet based on their brief exchanges looks more like he's falling for her because she's just the only other girl he knows.

Theirs is a strictly business relationship. Her character has one job: put some dude in contact with another dude. In fact, after facilitating the first few meetings, she doesn't even need to be on screen ever again. I'm at a loss as to why she keeps showing up because I honestly don't recall a single line explaining it. Is it another part of her job to just always be there? Because their whole romance plays out like it's tacked on purely to give characters a chance to talk about something other than fish and fishing for a couple of minutes.

"Well this is embarrassing, we wore the same thing."

In fact, I saw a stronger relationship form between the two male leads than anything that happened between the pair that are supposed to be developing undeniable romantic feelings over a period of several months.

And that's the only redeeming quality. The heart of the film is tied entirely to a well-paced fishing scene where the guy and the Sheik first officially meet. The only time we see any character growth and feel any love for this movie is during a couple discussions about how everyone can connect through fishing. And while it's a decent enough message, it doesn't even begin to hold this nearly two-hour movie together.

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