DVD Release Date: July 17, 2012
Theatrical Release Date: March 9, 2012
Rating: PG-13 (for some violence and sexual content, and brief language)
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Run Time: 112 min.
Director: Lasse Hallstrőm
Actors: Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas, Amr Waked, Rachael Sterling, Tom Mison

Two weeks ago, Wanderlust showed how a romantic comedy could go wrong by forgetting the romance, and by stressing raunchy and outrageous gags for warmth and genuine feeling. This week, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen improves on the formula for a successful entry in the genre but still comes up a bit short—this time by forgetting the comedy element down the stretch. Instead of humor, the film pivots toward a lightweight mysticism and a sudden, but disappointing, attempt to give the film a conclusion more appropriate to an action film than a rom-com. By the time the film wraps up, you might wonder what happened to the sweet relationship story you thought you were watching.

Fred (Ewan McGregor, Beginners), a government employee who specializes in fisheries, is approached by Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Emily Blunt, The Muppets). She represents a wealthy sheik (Amr Waked, Contagion) who wants to bring salmon fishing to the dry and dusty Yemen. Fred’s resistance to the idea is overcome by a pushy assistant (a dynamite Kristin Scott Thomas, Confessions of a Shopaholic) to the prime minister who’s eager for a “symbol of Anglo-Yemeni cooperation”—something to take the British public’s mind off of war and turmoil in the Middle East.

It turns out that the project is just what Fred, troubled by marital problems, needs. He finds a distraction from his personal struggles by traveling to Yemen and working on the sheik’s vision, even though he thinks it will never pan out. The temperature in Yemen is too hot, the water’s not cold enough, and even if they get those elements right, the salmon won’t “run”—won’t swim upstream.

But the sheik has faith, or so he keeps telling Fred. He has a vision, and the salmon project is part of it— despite accusations from his countrymen that the sheik is introducing “Western ways” to the region.

Fred isn’t the only person who needs the distraction of the sheik’s project. Harriet, facing the loss of a lover she’d know for only a few weeks, also finds a purpose in Yemen, and in Fred’s steady presence while she works through her grief.