Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas, Amr
Director: Lasse Hallstrom
It's really all in the title to be honest.
Based on a book by Paul Torday, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen stars Ewan McGregor as Dr Fred Jones, a scientist who works for the British fisheries. With a crumbling marriage and a tedious job thanks to civil service bureaucracy, Dr Jones is a cynic who's seen it all and can't be convinced of anything new.
Enter into his life, Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Emily Blunt) a consultant who works for a corporation employed by a sheik named Muhammed (Waked). Chetwode-Talbot has just recently started seeing a soldier and has been tasked by the sheik to research the possibility of a project to bring salmon to the Yemen so that he can hold a fishing competition. (See, I told you it was all in the title).
Gradually, despite Dr Jones' reservations, the pair begin work on the project while fielding other crises in their lives - he a marriage about to fail and she the fact her soldier boy is missing in action...Factor in the UK's Prime minister's Press Secretary (a wickedly tart Scott Thomas) who's after a good news story...
Salmon Fishing in The Yemen is quite a sweet film which has a gentle disarming charm and some truly funny moments.
McGregor is brilliant as the cardiganed slightly Aspergers' doctor - given the lion's share of some funny lines and a dialled down performance gives the whole thing a very realistic feel. Likewise, Blunt is the perfect foil for this slightly uptight doctor - and gives her Harriet Chetwode-Talbot a likeability and humanity which stretches beyond the story. The two have a nice easy chemistry and work well together as their friendship and inevitable relationship/ courtship begins to grow.
Narratively, the story is predictably what you'd expect and I have to admit to feeling once the romance angle came into play, complete with some shoehorned scenes of marital discord and a returning soldier, I could feel the directorial and story cliches being rolled out and checked off a list. Throw in some shots of a salmon swimming against the rest of the run and you're really veering into formulaic territory.
Which is a real shame because all in all, thanks in part to Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt's performance, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is a refreshingly breezy little charmer of a feel good film which is funny, realistic and human - and can bring joy to even the most cynical of hearts.