Salmon Fishing In The Yemen

Salmon Fishing In The Yemen


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

It's hard to see the fish for the froth in Lasse Hallstrom's twee adaptation of Paul Torday's novel. Ewan McGregor attempts - and fails - to disappear into the character of the perma-cardiganed Dr Fred Jones, a career civil servant and long-time fish fan, whose hobby is making intricate fishing flies.

He's a character just made for a Fifties Ealing comedy about British eccentricity but he feels like a fish out of water in this particular modern set-up. The backwaters of his quiet department are rudely disturbed when he is ordered to help make a Jordanian sheikh's (Amr Waked) pipe dream of the titular salmon fishing Yemeni style come true.

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Dr J is thrust together with the chewably named Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Emily Blunt), who is on hand to ensure the sheikh is not stirred, while simultaneously providing a side-line in winsome pining for her soldier beau who is out in Afghanistan. And if you think you can see where all this is going, you might consider adding a few more predictable cliches to the pot before stirring in an ill-advised amount of sugar.

The sheikh seems carved from the how-to-build-a-noble-savage instruction booklet, with his decision to wade into a Scottish river sans waders and with cloak a-billowing smacking more of latent racism than comedy, while the Scotland here is the sort that is whimsically peddled by the tourist board. Kristin Scott Thomas brings some welcome acid to her Malcolm-Tucker-cum-Margaret-Thatcher press secretary, who just wants those fish to get on swimmingly so that she has a good news story to pin on the Middle East - but the rest of the satire has about as much bite as your average salmon.

Blunt and McGregor do what they can but they are swimming upstream in a river of syrup to a soundtrack that came from the drawer marked Now That's What I Call Celtic. The film has moments but is ultimately let down by too much reliance on stereotypes.

Reviewed on: 20 Apr 2012
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When an idealistic sheikh persuades a fisheries expert to try and introduce salmon to the Yemen, the expert soon finds himself himself out of his depth, but love blossoms along the way.
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Angus Wolfe Murray ****

Director: Lasse Halström

Writer: Simon Beaufoy, based on the novel by Paul Torday

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas, Amr Waked, Rachael Stirling, Tom Mison, Conleth Hill, Catherine Steadman, Tom Beard, Nayef Rashed, Waleed Akhtar, Jill Baker

Year: 2011

Runtime: 112 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: UK


Glasgow 2012

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