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Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 6, 2012 by  



“Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” was indeed a treat.  Aside from the wonderful performances, the direction by Lasse Hallstrom is well-done, the cinematography of Terry Stacey is also fantastic and for the most part, Simon Beaufoy’s screenplay of Paul Torday’s novel manages to be delightful and makes the film quite enjoyable.  It’s an original storyline which I don’t think will ever be duplicated.  If you are looking for a different kind of romantic comedy that is fun and very entertaining, “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” is definitely recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2011 Yemen Distributions Ltd., BBC and The British Film Institute. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

FILM RELEASE: 2011

DURATION: 107 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13 (Some Violence and Sexual Content and Brief Language)

Release Date: July 17, 2012

Directed by Lasse Hallstrom

Screenplay by Simon Beaufoy

Novel by Paul Torday

Produced by Paul Webster

Executive Producer: Guy Avshalom, Stephen Garrett, Paula Jalfon, Zygi Kamasa

Production Executive: Tim Van Rellim

Music by Dario Marianelli

Cinematography by Terry Stacey

Edited by Lisa Gunning

Casting by Fiona Weir

Production Design by Michael Carlin

Art Direction by Steve Carter, Nicki McCallum

Set Decoration by Rebecca Alleway

Costume Design by Julian Day

Starring:

Amr Waked as Sheikh Muhammed

Emily Blunt as Harriet

Catherine Steadman as Ashley

Tom Mison as Capt. Robert Mayers

Ewan McGregor as Dr. Alfred Jones

Rachael Stirling as Mary Jones

Kristin Scott Thomas as Patricia Maxwell

Tom Beard as Peter Maxwell

Jill Baker as Betty

Conleth Hill as Bernard Sugden

Alex Taylor-McDowall as Edward Maxwell

Matilda White as Abby Maxwell

Otto Farrant as Joshua Maxwell

Hamish Gray as Malcolm

Clive Wood as Tom Price-Williams

Ewan McGregor (Beginners) and Emily Blunt (The Adjustment Bureau) star alongside Oscar©-nominee Kristin Scott Thomas (I’ve Loved You So Long) and Amr Waked (Syriana) in this extraordinary, beguiling tale of fly-fishing and political spinning, of unexpected heroism and late-blooming love and of an attempt to prove the impossible, possible. Directed by Oscar©-nominee Lasse Hallström (Chocolat) and written by Oscar©-winner Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire), this feature film is based on Paul Torday’s acclaimed novel about a scientist who looks to fulfills a sheikh’s dream of bringing the sport of fly-fishing to his homeland in Yemen. It is produced by Paul Webster (The Motorcycle Diaries) and executive produced by Jamie Laurenson, Stephen Garrett, Paula Jalfon, Zygi Kamasa and Guy Avshalom.

British writer Paul Torday has written a few best-selling and award winning novels.  His 2006 novel “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” was a winner of the 2007 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Price for Comic Writing and a Waverton Good Read Award in 2008.

The story was so well loved in the UK that it would receive serialization on BBC Radio 4 and eventually receive a film adaptation in 2010 directed by Lasse Hallstrom (“Chocolate”, “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”, “The Cider House Rules”, “Dear John”) and written by Simon Beaufoy (“Slumdog Millionaire”, “The Full Monty”, “127 Hours”).

“Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” revolves around several characters.

Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (as portrayed by Emily Blunt, “The Young Victoria”, “The Devil Wears Prada”, “The Adjustment Bureau”) is a consultant who represents a wealthy Yemeni, Sheikh  Muhammed (as portrayed by Amr Waked, “Syriana”, “The Father and the Foreigner”) who wants to introduce salmon fishing to the desert country of Yemen.  Harriet has begun dating Capt. Robert Mayers (as portrayed by Tom Mison, “One Day”) and has fallen in love with him.  But Capt. Mayers has been called on duty on a major mission to Afghanistan.

Alfred “Fred” Jones (as portrayed by Ewan McGregor, “Star Wars I-III films”, “Trainspotting”, “Big Fish”) is a man with Asperger’s syndrome and is also a British government expert in salmon fisheries.  Fred is also married to a woman named Mary (as portrayed by Rachel Stirling) who is career-obsessed and all she is concerned about is her career and money, which she tends to prioritize over her own husband.

In order to improve relations between the British and Arab (but also to distract voters away from the bad news of UK involvement in Afghanistan and also hopefully win more votes for the Prime Minister), with the Prime Minister’s press secretary Patricia Maxwell (as portrayed by Kristin Scott Thomas, “The Horse Whisperer”, “The English Patient”, “Gosford Park”) knowing that Sheikh Muhammed wants to introduce salmon fishing to Yemen, Patricia reassigns Fred to work with the Sheikh’s consultant, Harriet.  Primarily to figure out if it is feasible to bring salmon to Yemen, which Fred thinks it is unfeasible due to the lack of water and the weather conditions.

And as Fred’s serious and cold attitude becomes amusing to Harriet, the two must work together and make things happen as the relationship with Sheikh Muhammed is important to the Prime Minister.

Meanwhile, while Fred and Harriet are working with each other, Fred’s serious and cold demeanor starts to wear off as he becomes much nicer towards Harriet.  But when tragedy hits Harriet after finding out that her boyfriend may have been killed during battle, Fred begins to take care of Harriet who is emotionally withdrawn.

Knowing the importance of bringing the salmon to Yemen, Fred is there with Harriet through her healing process and just being there as a good friend to her. The two begin to work closely with each other and also with Sheikh Muhammed and eventually finding a way to bring salmon to Yemen.  And as they reach closer to realization that the plan of bringing salmon to Yemen can work, life begins to changes for both Fred and Harriet, especially as the two beginning working closer with each other.

But Fred is married and what if there is a chance that Harriet’s boyfriend did survive the mission?  Meanwhile, while plans are in place to bring salmon fishing to Yemen, local militants are doing what they can to stop it, even if that means trying to assassinate the Sheikh.

Will Fred and Harriet be able to make salmon fishing in Yemen come true and what happens when these two fall in love?

VIDEO:

“Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1).  The overall picture quality for this film is quite amazing.  Shot in London, Scottland and Morcco, Terry Stacey (“Adventureland”, “50/50”, “P.S. I Love You”) manages to capture the lush greens and the barren desert with efficacy.  Colors are natural, vibrant when they need to be and black levels are nice and deep.  I didn’t see any banding issues, nor did I see any artifacts and the detail, may it be during closeups or the clothing of an individual can be seen.  If anything, the film looks great on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA.  As one can expect from a romantic comedy, the film is dialogue driven and is crystal clear, along with Dario Marianelli’s (“Atonement”, “V for Vendetta”, “Pride & Prejudice”) musical score.  But there is also good use of surround and LFE, primarily during the fishing scenes and you hear the fish jumping in the water to sounds of splashing.  These really come through the surround channels and just the boom from those scenes, it was a nice touch.

There area few scenes with crowds and you do get ambiance but for the most part, the lossless soundtrack for “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” was quite appropriate and the added touch of the surround channel and LFE sequences were pretty cool to hear!

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” comes with the following special features:

  • Miracles Happen: Making Salmon Fishing in the Yemen – (13:07) The director and cast talk about the making of the film.  From interviews with the fly fishing adviser, shooting in Scotland and what happened when a flood devastated the set and more.
  • The Fisherman in the Middle East: Novelist Paul Torday – (3:14) Novelist Paul Torday talks about how his novel became a film.

I have to admit that before I review a fishing-related film, I always wonder if it will be about another banal storyline of one trying to find their life through fishing.  Fortunately, this is not the case with “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen”.

In fact, I found this film to be smart, delightful and quite moving!  While fishing is an important part of the film, what makes “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” so original is that it deals with political spin, as viewers get to see how politicians try to deflect a crisis by trying to find another story that people will follow.

In the case of this film, the Prime Minister’s press secretary trying to deflect the crisis in Afghanistan and the death of soldiers by trying to build up British and Arab relations by a storyline of two sides working together to bring salmon fishing to the Yemen.  And the concept may seem like a bore when reading it, this film is definitely not boring, thanks to its characters and a wonderful performance by Emily Blunt, Ewan McGregor, Amr Waked and Kristin Scott Thomas.

You have one storyline revolving around Harriet (Blunt), who not only has to emotionally deal with her boyfriend having to go to Afghanistan on a mission and not long after, having to deal with the prikish Dr. Alfred Jones (McGregor).  But the delightful thing about Harriet is that she embraces her job and Dr. Alfred Jones with humor and just wanting to make sure that she comes through for her client, the Sheikh Muhammed (Waked).

And as for Dr. Alfred Jones, a man with Asperger’s Syndrome but so qualified and knowledgeable when it comes to fish, talking with others who are not so familiar with fish and streams, he can be rather cold.  But what is interesting about Jones is that under that cold demeanor, he’s actually a good guy.  He’s just not good with his emotions but yet, Harriet manages to bring the best out of him.

And this is where the conundrum begins because Harriet hears of her boyfriend’s possible demise (news reports of no survivors involving British soldiers in Afghanistan).  Emotionally withdrawn, Dr. Jones knows that he needs her to complete this Yemen project, so he gradually warms up by being there for her, helping her through this tough time.  And through that tough time of adjusting, not only does he enjoy her as as a colleague, he begins to feel attracted to her.  As she does with him.

And to add to the relationship between the two, you add the Sheikh Muhammed.  The Sheikh knows that there are people who will try to derail his plan to bring salmon fishing to Yemen (especially as there are groups who don’t like the interaction with the British on working on a  project together).  But the Sheikh has a lot of faith, always positive and for Dr. Jones, he is unable to understand what faith is, but through being with the Sheikh throughout the project, he begins to change and possibly see where his life can be better used to help people.

And then you have Kristin Scott Thomas as the press secretary Patricia Maxwell.  A woman who is seen primarily talking on her phone or on chat with the Prime Minister, and she provides a comical look at how the politicians work.

As for the Blu-ray release, the picture quality is fantastic and the lossless soundtrack sounds great, especially for the salmon fishin scenes that tend to use the surround channels and LFE quite effectively.  While not special features heavy, you do get two of them.

Overall, “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” was indeed a treat.  Aside from the wonderful performances, the direction by Lasse Hallstrom is well-done, the cinematography of Terry Stacey is also fantastic and for the most part, Simon Beaufoy’s screenplay of Paul Torday’s novel manages to be delightful and makes the film quite enjoyable.  It’s an original storyline which I don’t think will ever be duplicated.

If you are looking for a different kind of romantic comedy that is fun and very entertaining, “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” is definitely recommended!

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