I know I sound like a broken record when I say romantic comedies are formulaic: Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl back. A deviation from this formula leaves filmmakers with a dissatisfied and disgruntled audience. Then comes Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. It is most definitely a romantic comedy and to some extent, it sticks to the formula. At the same time, however, it is refreshingly original.
Harriet (Emily Blunt) is a financial advisor for Yemeni Sheik Mohammed (Amr Waked) a spiritual man who wants to devote millions to bring fly-fishing to his home country. When Harriet approaches a fisheries expert, Alfred Jones (Ewan McGregor), with the project, he laughs in her face at the patently absurd notion. All that changes when the British government’s press secretary, Patricia Maxwell (Kristin Scott Thomas), prioritizes the project in an attempt to garner some positive publicity from the region after tensions mount in the Middle East.
So off they go. Harriet parts with her new love, Robert (Tom Mison), a British soldier heading off to Afghanistan, and Fred leaves his indifferent wife to take on the seemingly futile attempt to bring the North Atlantic sport of salmon fishing to a desert.
If I got into the subtle complexities of this film, we would be here all day. Suffice it to say that this is a beautifully acted, nuanced and above all, funny film. The romance between Harriet and Fred unfolds far from effortlessly; however, what the film loses in deviating from the formula, it more than makes up for with its intelligence and originality.
It's an 8.