Salmon Fishing In The Yemen - Blu-ray Review

'Rom-Com rule number one: adultery is fine, but only if we really hate the person being adultered.'

Somewhere, somehow, something in Salmon Fishing In The Yemen went a bit wrong. Lasse Hallström's film does not feel like the sort of movie that would go out of its way to indulge in some strangely off-key morals but nevertheless, bad intentions or not, it blunders in to them, scattering them around gaily to shoot holes in an otherwise fairly affable Romance.

Chief offender in this rather muddied mess-up is Capt. Robert Mayers (Tom Mison), a British soldier in Afghanistan, which the film proceeds to use as a pretty clumsy plot device and then, later, a semi-antagonist. That huge numbers of his colleagues have to die for the plot to function seems irrelevant to Hallström and script-writer Simon Beaufoy, and perhaps the fact that it happens off-screen means some won't be as effected by it, but still, something feels off-colour, clumsy, a little unsavoury. Not feelings you'd normally search for in a gentle 12A paddle up the river of the Rom-Com.

Mayers forms one half of a partnership who never meet, he being the love interest of lead Emily Blunt, whilst Ewan McGregor's on-screen wife Mary (Rachael Stirling), forms the second half of the duo. Here again, we are in difficult waters. Both Mary and Mayers are given throwaway scenes displaying their negative traits but neither seems all that bad really. Come the inevitable conclusion it is very difficult to root for the McGregor/Blunt axis, when their relative other halves seem to have done so little wrong. Rom-Com rule number one: adultery is fine, but only if we really hate the person being adultered.

These two elements may seem minor but they contribute to a film which never gets on top of its tone and throws more and more elements in to the convoluted mixer as it goes along. Kristin Scott Thomas shows up, doing a very funny impression of Malcolm Tucker (her text conversations with the Prime Minister are hilarious) but its from a different film entirely, one concerned with political satire and biting wit. Salmon Fishing In The Yemen is a film concerned with, well, salmon.

It doesn't quite leave you with a sour taste in your mouth, although it comes close, but Hallström's film feels unnecessarily fussy, beset by too many elements it doesn't need and lacking in that key Rom-Com element: Romance. That Harriet (Blunt) and Alfred (McGregor) feel worlds apart still, come the end, doesn't help matters, a failing that Beaufoy's occasionally smart script can not cover up.


  1. Yeah, this one was an odd one to watch. The audience I saw it with at the BFI (who were comfortably twice my age) seemed to enjoy it well enough but the 'third act' is just a tragedy. It's as if Hallstrom and Beaufoy just thought, "well, let's try and undermine the film with a poorly contrived and manipulative appearance".

    That left me more than a little disappointed as Blunt and McGregor were quite affable on screen even if their relationship seemed a little unlikely and you're right about the spouses in the film.

    A bit of shame then as the film was, ahem, going quite swimmingly until it became so melodramatic.

    1. Yeah, they would have been better off just leaving Blunt's other half where he was. There was enough drama without the contrivance of him appearing again.

      Agree that Blunt and McGregor at the very least affable but just didn't think they grew together at all. By the end of the film, I cannot imagine what their house together in Yemen would be like; like his back home? Or hers?! Both seems equally unlikely.

      It definitely had potential but there's just a core mess-up here somewhere.

  2. Someone told me that this movie was "cute." I do not get that impression from your review so I have no idea what to expect now. lol

    1. I wouldn't call it cute, no. The two main characters are just a bit too stiff for that. The romance is too forced and uncomfortable.