The story of Salmon Fishing is a triumph of optimism over reality as lensed through a jaundiced eye. And while that may sound negative, it isn’t. The journey of the characters and the viewer are both entertaining and satisfying. That’s a lot of weight to put on on what is, at its core, a simple romance, but it manages to transcend its genre through the layers of the plot and presentation.
Clearly, part of the film’s success is the cast. McGregor (Perfect Sense, Beginners, The Men Who Stare at Goats, Shallow Grave) and Blunt (Looper, The Muppets, Sunshine Cleaning, The Devil Wears Prada) have amazing chemistry and timing. They both navigate subtle shifts through the movie in order to be able to arrive at the needed end. Their humor and ability to share their inner struggles, often without ever having lines to express them, keep the pace of the film forward even though it is generally rather slow in tempo. Supporting them, Krsiten Scott Thomas (Nowhere Boy, Gosford Park) does her best impression of Anna Wintour as Press Officer to Parliament And relative newcomer, Amr Waked, likewise provides an amazing foil and set of supports for the plot.
However, while a lot of the credit for the success of this film can go to the cast, most of the credit really goes to screenwriter, Beaufoy (127 Hours, Full Monty, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, Slumdog Millionaire, and the upcoming Catching Fire) and director Lasse Hallström (Chocolat, My Life as a Dog, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?) who both know who to create and navigate complex stories without having to make it obvious. They provide the environment and allow you to take as much or as little as you want from the film.
I’m clearly a fan of many of those involved in this production, though I only knew who was in the cast when I set it up for viewing. It is a nice introduction of what’s possible by this collection of artists. And while I think some of the flicks I’ve listed above really eclipse this in quality, it is certainly a good entry point to see their talents and a good evening of viewing on its own. Even one that will provide new insights on re-watch.