Even though there is no fly fishing in Yemen (and even if there were you probably wouldn’t want to go), I was pleasantly surprised to see that the rather unassuming Salmon Fishing in the Yemen was recognized by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) with three Golden Globe nominations for: Best Actor in a Comedy (Ewan McGregor), Best Actress in a Comedy (Emily Blunt) and Best Motion Picture–Musical or Comedy. A pretty big deal for a movie that pulled in less than $9 million in the U.S.
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is one of those stories about unreasonably good-looking people surmounting challenges to fulfill a dream thought absurd, and one of the best examples of a “feel good” movie. I enjoyed it despite issues with some of the fly fishing scenes, which is okay. Fly fishing is essentially a plot device (in both the book and movie) to explore love, separation and loss and ultimately, inspiration and faith. It’s refreshing to see a balanced portrayal of an Arab character and his Middle Eastern country, and the likable cast does a great job bringing a not-quite-over-the-edge spark of screwball energy to their characters. (I would suggest that Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt haven’t been duly awarded for their trade craft.) The direction of Lasse Hallström offers beautiful landscapes as a supporting character.
In a nutshell, the attempt to bring fly fishing to the Yemen River is the quixotic* quest through which the characters search for contentment. A bit like fly fishing itself.
So, this winter, instead of justifying your lack of fishing with excuses of brutal cold, iced guides and the simple lack of a rational reason to fly fish in January, sit down with that beer or scotch, and enjoy. You can even tell your significant other that this is a film with fly fishing that they may actually enjoy.
*Yup, I worked “quixotic” into two posts in a row.