March 30, 2012 in Features

‘Salmon Fishing’ delightfully offbeat

Chris Hewitt (St. Paul, Minn.) Pioneer Press

My notes on “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” read like a list of the things that delighted me:

1. Its settings, Scotland (lush and green) and Yemen (spare and brown), are lovely in strikingly different ways.

2. Its possible romance, between courtly types who refer to each other as “Dr. Jones” and “Miss Chatham,” begins as – and might remain – a friendship.

3. Ewan McGregor’s nerdy innocence, as the aforementioned Dr. Jones, is mighty appealing.

4. So is Emily Blunt’s brisk efficiency as Miss Chatham.

6. Quietly intimidating Amr Waked, as a sheik willing to spend whatever it will take to import Scottish salmon to his Yemeni home, and loudly intimidating Kristin Scott Thomas, as a government wonk, are hilarious in completely different ways.

7. The dialogue is crisp and clever.

8. Like another movie I went crazy for – “Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day” – “Salmon Fishing” has a pleasingly old-fashioned take on courtship. (It makes a big deal about handholding, for Pete’s sake.)

9. The genre is tough to get a bead on. It might be a romantic comedy but the possible suitors are so slow to move and so distracted by other romantic possibilities that it’s equally possible “Salmon Fishing” is a movie about a deep friendship.

10. Even the characters who are only briefly on-screen are memorable and funny.

11. And the movie’s one misstep – a terrorism subplot that seems to have bungled in from whatever movie is playing next door at the multiplex – gets resolved in time for “Salmon Fishing” to end with a scene that is sweet, hopeful and just exactly right.

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