Scrolling Headlines:

UMass football selected to finish fourth in MAC East preseason poll -

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Legislature overrides Baker’s UMass budget cut -

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Report: UMass football’s Todd Stafford arrested Saturday morning in Stamford, Connecticut -

Monday, July 20, 2015

UMass names Molly O’Mara newly-created associate director of athletics for communications and PR -

Monday, July 20, 2015

Baker approves state budget, UMass to receive $5.25 million less than legislature’s proposed figure -

Friday, July 17, 2015

UMass bathroom policy to provide comfort, safety for transgender and non-gender conforming students -

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Long-time UMass professor Normand Berlin, 83, dies -

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

UMass professor and poet James Tate dies at 71 -

Thursday, July 9, 2015

State legislators propose budget, UMass could receive almost $532 million -

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Cause of death determined for UMass student Chloe Malast -

Monday, July 6, 2015

Nick Mariano, Zach Oliveri transferring from UMass men’s lacrosse program -

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Four months after banning Iranian students from certain graduate programs, UMass announces new measures to ensure compliance with U.S. law -

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Justin King sentenced to eight to 12 years in prison -

Monday, June 29, 2015

Two future UMass hockey players selected in 2015 NHL Draft -

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Supreme Court ruling clears way for same-sex marriage nationwide -

Friday, June 26, 2015

Former UMass center Cady Lalanne taken 55th overall by Spurs in 2015 NBA Draft -

Friday, June 26, 2015

Second of four men found guilty on three counts of aggravated rape in 2012 UMass gang rape case -

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Boston bomber speaks out for first time: ‘I am sorry for the lives I have taken’ -

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

King claims sex with woman was consensual during alleged 2012 gang rape -

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Wrongful death suit filed in death of UMass student -

Thursday, June 18, 2015

‘Fishing’ worth a bite

The film of 2012 you should see but probably haven’t is already upon us, and it’s a rather surprising one: “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.” It isn’t without a hidden tone of surprise that this review will be mostly positive. After all, who would want to watch a movie about salmon fishing? Turns out, when a film is put together properly, even if not completely front-to-back, it can be a joy to watch regardless of subject matter.

When fisheries expert Dr. Alfred Jones (Ewan McGregor) is forcibly pulled into a project of bringing salmon fishing to the Yemen, a notorious dry area, he is matched with an overly determined consultant (Emily Blunt) and a visionary sheik (Amr Waked), whose faith clashes with Jones’ personal beliefs, specifically pertaining to the project at hand.

What shines brighter than anything is the script’s utter dedication to its characters, while also adding more than a dash of dry wit and silly humor. For a film dealing with fishing in the Middle East, the amount of laughs were almost alarming. Audiences would expect to see an uplifting story, but the presence of the humor, which is carefully placed and perfectly executed, was not an expectation at all.

The key to this odd film’s success is all in character creation, development and portrayal. The only way to somehow make the audience care about salmon and salmon fishing is to infuse passion into the characters. In this case, there needn’t just be passion, but also an extra flair that either pokes fun at the boring nature of fishing or fish enthusiasts or creates fun by having characters radiate a personality that stands out and leaves an impression.

Dr. Jones is a fisheries expert and has a stale marriage to his wife, which isn’t exactly the ideal background for a character whose job is to engage and entertain. However, he is brought to life by dry humor and natural quips. Brewing with sarcasm and seemingly aimless dedication, Jones is best described as being professional-unprofessional. Originally faithless and unmoved by a project he believes to be ludicrous and only possible in theory, the transformation of his character becomes one of the film’s strongest positives. Adding to the charm of the whole thing is Harriet (Blunt) and the Sheik. Though they play second fiddle to Jones, their guidance, knowledge, beliefs and light air about them further display a wholesome commitment to worthwhile characters. The acting, as a final note, can’t be shortchanged as the chemistry between McGregor and Blunt is outstanding, and they play off of one another both in moments of playful humor, tense humor and more tender moments as well as any leads this year.

If there’s a slight hiccup to be found in “Salmon Fishing,” it is the fact that it has a considerably weaker second half. However, the keyword here is “slight.” As the story gets deeper and deeper, the film tends to sway more in the direction of romantic comedy rather than stay the course it should, a non-traditional, somewhat off-beat comedy. Things start to slow down and follow a more predictable path towards what starts to seem like an undeniable end. Genuinely uplifting starts to poke its head into the category of uplifting for uplifting’s sake. Most importantly, because each character is sculpted so carefully, one can’t help but feel two people come out of the whole situation with a rather raw deal. Depending on the viewer, this slip up could be overlooked entirely or a pure backbreaker.

Honestly, the chemistry between McGregor and Blunt is so pure and the writing is so consistently sharp that it seems ridiculous not to give the flaws a pass. The filmmakers (in general) should receive the utmost praise for taking a dull subject and making it into something easy to care about. What’s important is the full body of work, not just individual parts.

“Salmon Fishing” isn’t perfect, but it’s much better than it had to be to please an audience. With an uplifting picture of the Middle East without fully stripping realism, clever writing, well-developed characters and wonderful performances, this film is hardly the fish out of water that it should be.

Nick Coviello can be reached at ncoviell@student.umass.edu.

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