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Tanya Khoury: Quirky and charming
June 22, 2012
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Outside the buzz and action of the summer flicks season, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen finds itself a slot within the masses. Albeit with the long title and the British romantic comedy genre I did not think that it was going to last a whole week at the theatre, regardless of the cast that looked good (Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Amr Waked), the adapted screenplay by Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 hours) and director Lasse Hallstrom (What’s Eating Glibert Grape, Chocolat etc.) in addition to the fact that the book written by Paul Torday is a pleasant read – the scenario really had some serious backup to develop into a somewhat decent film.

The story in a nutshell is quite a heartwarming one, bringing the art of salmon fishing from the freezing UK all the way to the Middle East. There is a Sheikh, a doctor, a researcher and a press secretary – when you place all those characters in one place, surely something funny will come out of it. There are several connotations throughout the film that I found particularly amusing as well as informative, and for the audience that has not heard of or read the novel there are no sudden gaps or disconnecting factors that make it difficult to follow what the writer/filmmaker are trying to collaborate.

Books, however, always tell the tale more eloquently and just leave even more room for one’s imagination, so in that aspect I did enjoy the book more than the film. There are lots of moments during the film that felt dragged as the build up between McGregor and Blunt’s characters begin to increase. The Sheikh’s role is my favourite; Waked is a well-known Egyptian actor and has made a splash into Hollywood, as sincere as he is stern, his character is played with a lot of emotion that you really want this fishing experiment to work in his favour.

Of course as with the film industry and Hollywood, the package has to always have that cheese aspect to it. Very rarely does an adaptation stick to its exact raw roots and to make the film more sellable to the general audience there is quite a bit of Hollywoodised romance and humour that I felt was a little unnecessary. The chemistry between the cast and the whole aspect and experience of bringing the Sheikh’s vision to life is what makes the story so uplifting. The relationships that take shape as the film progresses are what the film captures the most. How the Sheikh’s character played alongside a typical British academic that falls under the show no emotion character is great, McGregor shows us his talent as an actor and how easy it seems to flow between one role to the next. The writing is quirky and witty, and this works very well with the banter that takes place throughout the film and is most definitely is a crowd pleaser.

This is the kind of feel good film that makes everything seem ok with the world during that two hour duration, it gives us the sense that everyone does eventually get along no matter what the differences. I recommend seeing this in the theatre on that day off, we rarely get feel good films that are not oozing predictability and I was pleased to see that it is not your typical run-of-the- mill romcom that both works with the female and male audiences. More of those I say, 7/10.
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