Starring: Ewen McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas, Amr Waked
Based on the 2007 novel of the same name by Paul Torday, Salmon Fishing In The Yemen tells the story of one Sheik (Waked) and his dream to install a salmon fishing reserve in Yemen (where did they get the title from?!). Charged with making his somewhat unreasonable wishes come true are financial adviser Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Blunt) and renowned fisheries expert Dr Alfred Jones (McGregor).
In the background, press secretary Patricia Maxwell (Scott Thomas) is making all the moves to prioritise the project to help improve relations between the UK and the Middle East.
Whilst only touching on the politics and science lightly, Salmon Fishing In The Yemen is less concerned about the project itself, and more about the relationship of the people involved, and how building the reservoir affects them personally.
From the outset Jones is fundamentally against the idea, on the grounds that the Yemeni weather and culture do not provide a suitable environment for salmon, who usually inhabit cold water.
Harriet fully supports the Sheik’s dream, believing him to be a visionary and seemingly enjoying the task of being part of a positive project, rather than working for rich kids wanting to buy expensive toys. Add in the fact that her boyfriend is presumed dead in Afghanistan, the project allows her to focus on something other than the sadness in her life.
The Sheik sees the fishery as an almost spiritual pursuit, suggesting that fishermen are almost a religion unto themselves, who do not see colour or creed.
And finally Maxwell will do anything and everything she can if the project secures the Prime Minister some extra votes or cash.
The acting is fairly decent from all involved, especially for a film of this type, i.e. it’s a little over the top, but in a pleasant way, with Blunt arguably being the best of the bunch. That being said, the first half of the film includes a pretty forced performance from McGregor as he attempts to portray a boring and stuffy man, seemingly more comfortable in the second half when his Dr Jones relaxes a little.
Unfortunately whilst the crux of the story is interesting and acted well enough it does fall down slightly in that it seems to fall between too many genres. Not funny enough to be a comedy, not dramatic enough to be a drama and not upsetting enough to be a tragedy, Salmon Fishing was a nice film to watch, but sadly not moving enough to really engage me on any level.
Filled with beautiful scenery and the message that faith and hope triumph over all, Salmon Fishing In The Yemen is a charming enough film and although it would not make it on to my “Best of” list, it did have just enough heart to make it a pleasant watching experience. Watch with your Mum or Nan, they’ll probably love it.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Did you know? Since the release of the film, the Yemen tourist board has been inundated with eager fishermen wanting to visit the Middle Eastern country, only to be rebuffed with the news that sadly, there is no fishing reserve there!