Monday, 7 May 2012

Fishing for Box Office Success in the Yemen?

On Friday after my ballet class (what an exciting social life I have) I went to see Salmon Fishing in the Yemen with my sister and mum. This is something we do fairly reguarly as a family as I think my mum likes to think she's educating us so she always picks interesting films. And she pays for the ticket so no complaints from me! Sorry for the stupid title to this post - I thought it was time to do a negative film review and it was the best pun I could come up with. Hopefully they will improve over time!

Anyway, my first impressions of this film were a bit disappointing. One of the first scenes was Emily Blunt working in an office, looking all organised and busy and very similar, if less fashionably dressed, to her character in The Devil Wears Prada. In fact, Harriet Chetwode-Talbot couldn't have been more different to Emily Charlton but I think they could have introduced her character in a more interesting way. Harriet did have a good storyline and a lot of funny one-liners so overall I thought she was a well written character. Despite Emily Blunt being a great actress, she wasn't that different in this from the way she acts in other things. This may be the fact she was playing a "normal" woman and I think Ewan Mcgregor did this as well because when they were on screen together I could see the actors talking rather than the characters. Does anyone get this feeling when watching a film with two such famous actors? With all the interviews and pictures of them in their normal lives you just feel that you know them too well to believe in the story? The joke about her long name was also used far too many times and eventually it looked like the writer was out of ideas to show Ewan Mcgregor's character's social awkwardness. It honestly would have cut about a third of the 107 minutes running time if he could have just called her Harriet.

I want to be this woman when I'm
a mother/wife/running the world.
However, I'm probably being really mean and all the rest of the writing was really good. Kristin Scott Thomas as the Prime Minister's press secretary was so funny and the whole cinema kept falling over laughing when she was on screen. I think the best line was when she was talking to her son and shouted "Don't roll your eyes at me! I'm not one of yo bitches, I'm your fucking mother!" It was of those moments were everyone was simultaneously crying with laughter. She was brilliant! I think the script must have written with her in mind for that part as I can't think of anyone else who would have been as good. It was a bit complicated because the camera kept transitioning between the three different sleeping couples involved so I did spend 20 minutes being confused as to why Fred (Mcgregor) was married to Patricia Maxwell (Scott Thomas.) Oops. Once I figured that out however the plot was easy to follow and actually I thought it was filmed beautifully with shots of rainy Scotland contrasted with the hot desert in the Yemen (Don't judge me, I don't do geography but at first I thought The Yemen was the name of the river. I know..)
The plot of the film is essentially about fish, but the fish represent "a good-news story about Anglo-Arab co-operation." If that sounds insane I totally understand and the metaphor of fishing as faith stretches very thin at times. Personally I think Lasse Hallstrom focused too much on making a heart-warming and easily digestible comedy than a political statement. Which is a shame because as the director of My Life As A Dog, The Cider House Rules, What's Eating Gilbert Grape? and Chocolat he clearly knows how to make an amzing film he just chose not to. Also when I googled him apparently he directed all the Abba music videos. You learn something weird every day.

Emily Blunt in The Devil Wears Prada.

And her in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.

If you're thinking of going to see it I would recommend it if  you want a light-hearted and funny film that will still make you think but if you are easily annoyed by plot holes, such as *SPOILER* Emily Blunt's boyfriend Robert's miraaculous return from Afghanistan or irritated by films that end with all the loose ends neatly tied up then I suggest you read Paul Torday's book instead. I've put on my to-read list but I don't know whether it's worth it or not. However I'm interested in books about politics or the Middle East conflict so maybe I will give it a go as a sun-lounger book this summer. Let me know what you thought of the film/book/anything you want to say in the comments.
Jessica x

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