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Review: Salmon Fishing In The Yemen Exceeds Highest Expectations

I was the first one to admit it. The Oscar year of 2011 to 2012 was pretty terrible. In all honesty, the Hollywood blockbusters weren’t all that great in that span either. Whether you are an espresso sipping movie snob (me) or a 31 year old who still thinks 2 Fast 2 Furious was an amazing movie (also partially me), last year sucked. It is now March 2012 and as the saying goes, hope springs eternal. Enter Salmon Fishing In The Yemen. What was that? Need it one more time? Yes, Salmon Fishing In The Yemen has gotten me out of my movie rut.

With a concept as crazy as the title, Salmon Fishing In The Yemen is pure brilliance in movie making. Ironically, this (movie) film walks the delicate tightrope between mainstream and indie. Mainstream are the recognizable actors like Ewan McGregor (you know the guy who played Obi Wan Kenobi that isn’t Sir Alec Guinness) and Emily Blunt (you know that girl who plays the bitch in every movie and by every movie I mean The Devil Wears Prada). Indie is the entire premise of the movie. The directing and writing is also located on the aforementioned tightrope. There are moments of high budget, cinematic drama, balanced by awkward scenes found only in the best Brooklyn screening rooms.

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Blunt and McGregor Make The Unlikeliest Of Pairs

After nearly two decades of forgettable roles, McGregor has embraced the actor within. Passing on roles like Obi Wan Kenobi, his last role was across from Christopher Plummer in Beginners. Another indie film with similar strengths, McGregor plays awkward better than anyone (except Ben Stiller in Greenberg, the most awkward movie ever). In Salmon Fishing he plays the role of a fishing expert who is recruited to pursue what he deems to be an impossible task.

His recruiter is Blunt. Both by name and by nature, she is firm throughout the entire movie while gently massaging the awkwardness out of McGregor’s character. The two lead players in this movie have a magical chemistry on screen. It’s one of those romances that you believe is actually happening. Instead of two perfects (see Friends With Benefits or No Strings Attached), Blunt and McGregor are flawed characters with raw, animal attraction under the laws of opposites attract.

In spite of everything you have just read, I believe that at its core, this movie is a comedy (with a heavy dose of romanticism). The comedy in Salmon Fishing In The Yemen is also walking a tightrope. It’s dry british humor mixed with laugh out loud, bombastic comedy (think The Office meets Wedding Crashers). It works on every level. It’s hilarious at times. It’s dramatic at times. It’s romantic at times. It will be a crime of the highest degree if this film doesn’t make it into “theaters nationwide” as the trailers always boast. One can only hope that everyone has a chance to see Salmon Fishing In The Yemen as I believe it will be one of the best movies of 2012.

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