Fred Jones is a British government expert in fisheries who is trapped in an unhappy marriage. Harriet Chetwode-Talbot is a consultant who has just began a relationship with a soldier who is suddenly sent to Afghanistan. Harriet, representing a wealthy Yemeni sheikh, Mohammed, asks for help to fulfill the sheikh’s vision to introduce salmon fishing to the desert country of Yemen. Fred rejects the idea as unfeasible, but the Prime Minister’s press secretary, Patricia Maxwell fastens onto it as a “good will” story of Anglo-Arab cooperation to distract the voters from ongoing bad news out of Afghanistan, and pressures Fred into working with Harriet and the sheikh to implement the project……..
Salmon Fishing In The Yemen has a very bad title and will sound to some as a very dull film indeed, but it’s actually a very pleasing, relaxing endeavour that is certainly one of the best films to come from erratic Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom, who did fine work in films like Hatchi: A Dog’s Tale and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape but tends to go for rather bland, if not unpleasant, adaptations of bestsellers which seem to be Oscar bait and aimed at folk who claim they like ‘arty’ movies but would actually run a mile from a real one. Salmon Fishing In The Yemen has apparently removed much of the political satire from Paul Torday’s novel, leaving the admittedly great Kristin Scott-Thomas, as press secretary to the Prime Minister, seemingly acting in a different film to everyone else. While it is on the surface a tale a feel good movie about hope and that leap of faith that may be more important than actually achieving those dreams we aim for, Simon Beaufoy’s script concentrates on the two main characters and gives us a really touching, tentative romantic drama, full of sharp comedy, especially in their early scenes when they takes pot shots at each other, but one that may really make you care about the outcome. Ewan MacGregor is the best he’s been in a while, but of course the stand out is the wonderful Emily Blunt; beautiful, classy, and a really fine actres to boot. She deserves true stardom, maybe Looper will be the movie to do it? In any case, despite some unevenness, some plotting that seemed very contrived, and a feeling that the film could have ended a few minutes before it did, I was surprised how much I enjoyed this, though maybe I just needed a contrast from Avengers Assemble!