Salmon Fishing in the Yemen   

by director Lasse Hallström

What I love the most about this film is that it defies genre definition. In the U.S. I notice that the film will be promoted as "an inspirational comedy." I actually think it is the closest you can get to an accurate definition.

I have never been a fan of genres. If a script is labeled as belonging to one genre I am immediately tempted to cross over to as many other genres as possible in my treatment of it. If you want to portray life truthfully, why limit yourself to a genre? Romance, horror, drama and comedy could all be part of a human story if it wants to be realistically told.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen has a little bit of that mix, it can't be easily defined. Its love story is unusual and original, its drama is surprising, and its comedy is both broad and understated. In my book of rules it says that you can jump freely between your different "genres" if you are authentic with your performances. If the people inhabiting your film are recognizable humans, and if you don't allow your actors to stylize a performance for comedy or drama or for any other genre label, you are free to try to make your audience respond with the widest range of emotions.

This was the best script I had read in years. I was so happy to have been selected to tell the story for the screen, and arriving on set I met actors who shared that same delight in doing something that wasn't formulaic. I could even say that magic happened. When the right people get together at the right time with the right kind of material, unusual things can happen, even the impossible can seem quite possible, like Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.

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