12 October 2014
SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN  [Blu-ray] The British Comedy of the Year! Fantastic! Highly Enjoyable!
‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’ stars Ewan McGregor as Fred Jones, a fisheries expert who is approached by Harriet [Emily Blunt] with a plan to introduce salmon into the waterways of Yemen. Despite Fred’s protests, he soon finds himself working on a project that seems not only frivolous but absolutely unfeasible in the arid land of Yemen. But as the mission begins, they soon find that hope can spring – even in the most unexpected places!
Written by OSCAR® winning screenwriter Simon Beaufoy of ‘The Full Monty’ and ‘Slumdog Millionaire,’ directed by Lasse Hallström ‘Chocolat’ and featuring hilarious performances from the stellar cast, ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’ is an unmissable tale of overcoming the odds!
FILM FACT Part One: Awards and Nominations: 2012 European Film Awards: Nominated: People's Choice Award. 2012 Golden Globe® Awards: Nominated: Best Motion Picture for Comedy or Musical. Nominated: Best Actor for Comedy or Musical for McGregor. Nominated: Best Actress for Comedy or Musical for Blunt.
FILM FACT Part Two: ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’ was shot on location in London, Scotland, and Morocco. Scenes set in Yemen were filmed in Ouarzazate in the Moroccan Atlas Mountains. The restaurant scene in London was filmed at the Oxo Tower. The Sheikh's house in Scotland was filmed at Ardverikie House. Reshooting and water tank work was filmed at Black Hangar Studios in the UK. Principal photography started on 6 August 2011. Music for the film was composed and orchestrated by Dario Marianelli. The score features Leo Abrahams (Guitar), Dirk Campbell (Woodwind), Giles Lewin (Oud), and the BBC Concert Orchestra, conducted by Benjamin Wallfisch. The original soundtrack album was released on 20 March 2012 by Lakeshore Records. The Scottish folksong "Mairi's Wedding" by The Clancy Brothers, which is played over one scene, and "Where You Go" by The Young Romans, the song played over the end credits, are not included on the album.
Cast: Amr Waked, Emily Blunt, Catherine Steadman, Tom Mison, Ewan McGregor, Rachael Stirling, Kristin Scott Thomas, Tom Beard, Jill Baker, Conleth Hill, Alex Taylor-McDowall, Matilda White, Otto Farrant, Hamish Gray, Clive Wood, Nayef Rashed, Peter Wight, Waleed Akhtar, Steven Blake, Hugh Simon, James Cutting, Colin Kilkelly and Jorge Leon Martinez (uncredited)
Director: Lasse Hallström
Producers: Guy Avshalom, Jamie Laurenson, Nicky Kentish Barnes, Paul Webster, Paula Jalfon, Samuel Hadida, Stephen Garrett, Tori Parry, Victor Hadida, Zakaria Alaoui and Zygi Kamasa
Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy and Paul Torday (novel)
Composer: Dario Marianelli
Cinematography: Terry Stacey
Video Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English: 2.0 DTS-HD Audio Descriptions
Subtitles: English SDH
Running Time: 106 minutes
Region: Region B/2
Number of discs: 1
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: In life, sometimes it's important to try new things, to grow as human beings, to attempt the impossible, to head upstream and swim against the current. You know, like a salmon. At least, that's what the characters in 'Salmon Fishing in the Yemen' learn, which is not so coincidentally, happens to feature lots and lots and lots of salmon. A charming, sweet little romantic comedy, the film is home to a wonderful cast and a fun, quirky script. While the plot does adhere to a few clichéd dramatic beats, the story's upbeat spirit and clever humour are irresistible and the journey proves to be heartfelt and entertaining.
Based on Paul Torday's novel of the same name, the film follows a Sheikh's efforts to bring salmon fishing to the Yemen and an area seemingly ill-suited for such a sport. Then we have Sheikh Muhammed's tenacious consultant, Harriet [Emily Blunt], is tasked with the impossible assignment, and soon reaches out to a fisheries expert, Dr. Fred Jones [Ewan McGregor]. At first baffled by the ridiculous notion, Jones declares the plan "fundamentally unfeasible" and wants nothing to do with it. Meanwhile, in search of a good PR opportunity, the Prime Minister's press secretary [Kristin Scott Thomas] latches onto the project, and pledges the British government's support, who I thought gave a brilliant performance, especially with her witty hilarious sarcastic comments and the best lines in the film. Now strong-armed into aiding their efforts, Jones slowly opens up to the idea. As the practical scientist begins to believe that the impossible might actually be possible, he simultaneously develops feelings for Harriet. Unfortunately, outside forces arise, not only threatening their budding relationship, but the project itself, potentially spelling doom for Dr. Fred Jones and the Sheikh Muhammed's elaborate dreams.
The script carries a fun, charming sense of humour, lifting us through a breezy, but thankfully not superficial adventure. Watching the leads attempt to achieve the impossible for the sheer thrill and magic of it all is fun and inspiring. Themes dealing with growth, spirituality, and faith are all touched upon, and the filmmakers' good-natured approach manages to be positive and uplifting without becoming saccharine or preachy. The salmon's impossible journey becomes a metaphor for Jones' own character arc, and both storylines end up fuelling most of the narrative's momentum. It might not be the deepest of allegories, but the simple parallel works very well, and the pragmatic man's potential transformation into a genuine dreamer is compelling and humorous.
Quick witted, fast-paced dialogue is prevalent throughout the runtime, and characters will often speak in cheeky formalities, displaying a very British sense of playful humour. As light-hearted as the picture can get, there is some genuine drama as well, and director Lasse Hallström does a great job of balancing the tone. Lasse Hallström also throws in a few fun visual touches every now and then you see the text from emails will appear on screen, for instance, but mostly offers a simple cinematic style that lets the whimsical story speak for itself.
Chemistry is paramount when it comes to films of this type, and Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt absolutely sparkle. Dr. Alfred Jones [Ewan McGregor] is a typical wet blanket scientist who is all business and totally out of touch with his emotions. Conversely, Emily Blunt's Harriet offers a warmer, more adventurous presence, and as soon as the characters meet, it's instantly clear that they've found their match. Both performers are incredibly likeable and their playful verbal sparring has a certain screwball charm that's infectious. Kristin Scott Thomas is also quite funny as the constantly scheming Patricia Maxwell, and Amr Waked lends Sheikh Muhammad a dignified air of wisdom and compassion.
'Salmon Fishing in the Yemen' is a simple but irresistibly fanciful beautiful film. Its sweet story is bolstered by great performances from the entire cast, and Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt make for a lovely on-screen couple. As original and quirky as the script can be, beneath the plot's outward imagination is a very standard romantic dramedy narrative. Though a few beats are a slightly contrived and predictable, the director's heartfelt sincerity and the script's witty humour saves the film from becoming too formulaic. It has some flaws, but there's just something about the film's light-hearted spirit that manages to win you over in the end and it is a joyous wonderful experience, that makes you feel glad hearted as the film credits roll up the screen and I know people who do not usually get very emotional with films like this, will definitely have a few tears rolling down their cheeks, in watching something really magical and extra special.
Blu-ray Video Quality – The Blu-ray is provided with a fantastic pristine 1080p encoded image transfer in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Featuring a nice clean look and a few impressive shots peppered throughout, the film comes to Blu-ray with a handsome transfer free of any major issues. The print is in pristine condition, and a very light layer of unobtrusive grain is visible, giving the image a natural, filmic quality. Detail wavers a bit from scene to scene, with more dimly lit sequences carrying a comparatively soft look. Bright scenes, however, feature very nice clarity, revealing many sharp textures and fine details. Shots capturing the breath-taking Scottish Highlands and majestic Moroccan landscapes (substituting for Yemen) are particularly impressive, and offer a great sense of depth and pop. Colours are rich and nicely saturated, complementing the whimsical tone of the story without becoming unnatural. Contrast levels are high but avoid blooming, and while blacks are a little inconsistent, shadow detail remains solid. Free of any unnecessary digital manipulation or artefacts, the transfer remains authentic and very pleasing. Please Note: Playback Region B/2: This will not play on most Blu-ray players sold in North America, Central America, South America, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Learn more about Blu-ray region specifications.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – The audio is presented in an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track with optional English SDH subtitles. Though a bit front loaded, there are a few lively bursts that provide a decent sense of immersion during key moments. Dialogue is crisp, clear, and well prioritized throughout. The front soundstage has some solid separation and directionality with music and speech, but for the most part, discrete and disperse effects are minimal. Surrounds are fairly quiet during several stretches, but do perk up when appropriate with some ambient sounds like background traffic, rain, wind, or buzzing flies. These instances are quite subdued but do help to enhance the atmosphere and scope of the mix. Dynamic range is wide, providing a nice gamut of distortion free frequencies. The film's climax actually features some aggressive design work and there is even some solid bass activity and the mix is very solid.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Special Feature: Miracles Happen: The Making of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen [1080p] [13:07] Cast and crew, in this fairly basic overview piece, discuss the source novel, the story's qualities and themes, casting the lead roles, character traits and relationships, filming locales, preparing for and shooting the fishing scenes, natural challenges during the shoot that actually benefited the film, and the cast's satisfaction with the film and the filmmaking experience.
Special Feature: The Fishermen in the Middle East: Novelist Paul Torday [1080p] [3:14] A very brief interview with the source novel's author is included. Paul Torday discusses the book's path to the screen, but the piece is far too short to be of much interest.
Finally, ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’ is a gentle, touching, soulful picture about accomplishing the impossible, about determination, courage, faith, friendship, love, and life. It's not so much about fishing as it faith, faith in oneself and in others, in the possibilities, in the potential to unite, to find goodness in success. It's nicely directed and very well acted. It's a light but purposeful outing, a picture that will leave audiences feeling good and believing in the power of man to come together in harmony, under a shared goal and the bond of friendship, never mind in the potential of cinema to tell well, worthy tales. LIONSGATE's Blu-ray release of ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’ comes up a bit short in terms of extra content, but the Blu-ray disc features LIONSGATE typical high quality audio and video. ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’ is a charming, well-made, and definitely must-see film; the Blu-ray does it justice totally. One bonus in getting the Region B/2 Blu-ray is the far superior Slip Cover Design cover, compared to the Region A/1 Blu-ray Cover Design. Very Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom