Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars
The news in England is pretty bleak. The headlines are full of stories about war and a bad economy. Enter Patricia Maxwell (Thomas), press secretary to the Prime Minister. She enlists her staff to search high and low for what she calls a “Good Story,” something that will take the peoples’ minds off of the negative. Unbeknownst to Maxwell, a very wealthy Yemeni Sheik (Amr Waked) with a love for fishing wants to bring the sport of salmon fishing to his country. A match made in publicity heaven.
Based on the novel by Paul Torday and adapted by Oscar winning screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (“The Full Monty,” “Slumdog Millionaire”), “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” is a well written, finely acted film that hopefully will not get lost in the upcoming “BIG MOVIE” release schedule. McGregor plays Dr. Alfred Jones, who works for the government’s conservation office. Blunt is Harriet, who is the Sheik’s representative on the project. At first Jones believes it all a joke, quoting a price of 50 million pounds as the cost of the project thinking he will call the Sheik’s bluff. But when the Sheik deposits the money in the bank he realizes the plan may work. An avid fisherman himself, Jones understands the peace and tranquility the Sheik is hoping to share with his people. A secondary story featuring Jones and his wife and Harriet and her recent boyfriend gives the film a romantic twist. Fate throws the two together alone in a strange country after Alfred’s wife heads to Geneva for a six week work project and Harriet’s beau, a soldier, is listed as missing in action. Only a minor subplot concerning the Sheik’s countrymen and their worries that he is becoming too “westernized” slows the film down. Both leads work well off of each other and it’s a treat to hear McGregor unleash his Scottish accent on screen.
The photography is beautiful, with the normally dull desert landscapes brought to life by cinematographer Terry Stacey (“American Splendor”). Equally solid is Lasse Hallstrom’s direction, keeping the film moving as gracefully as salmon swimming upstream.