Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011)

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Director: Lasse Hallström
Writer: Simon Beaufoy
Based on: Paul Torday‘s novel
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Amr Waked, Kristin Scott Thomas, Tom Mison, Rachael Stirling

Harriet (Emily Blunt) works for Sheikh Muhammed (Amr Waked) – a very rich Sheikh from the Yemen who would loves to flyfish and would love to establish salmon fishing in the Yemen. So Harriet gets in touch with fish expert Alfred (Ewan McGregor) to see if it can be done. Initially dismissive, if not to say hostile, Alfred declines a collaboration but is pressured by press secretary Patricia Maxwell (Kristin Scott Thomas) and finally gives in. But as the project slowly actually comes together, both Harriet’s and Alfred’s private lives are falling apart. But maybe a crazy salmon fishing project is just the thing they needed.

The movie has a whole lot of romcom potential and it does fulfill it for the most part. But in other parts, it just doesn’t work at all.

Here’s my main complaint about the film: Sheikh Muhammed. Not that Amr Waked didn’t do everything he could with the character (and looked gorgeous while doing it), but seriously he’s basically the most egregious example of the Noble Savage that I have seen since Australia, albeit in a more modern version. Simon Beaufoy really has to get over his obsession with the apparently innate wisdom of people from non-Western cultures and get a reality check. And Muhammed desperatley needed a personality apart from “plot device.” [And it personally irked me that Alfred’s atheism was seen as pure bitterness and that he could only be happy once he embraced faith. Ugh.]

The other thing that just didn’t work for me was [SPOILER] the magical return from the dead of Harriet’s boyfriend. Alfred jokingly says that he regrets that the boyfriend hadn’t remained dead in a ditch somewhere – and I couldn’t have agreed more. When he shows up, especially with the entire PR circus, it feels unrealistic, the story doesn’t call for it either and I just wanted to roll my eyes. [/SPOILER]

But apart from that I did like the film. It was entertaining and funny and sweet. Hallström paces well and he mostly manages to hit all the right chords. I also liked how he took a page of Sherlock‘s book and incorporated modern communication methods quite nicely.

And the cast is wonderful. Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt and above all Kristin Scott Thomas are perfect and very funny. It’s a joy to watch them.

Summarising: Despite its weaknesses very watchable.

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