A movie unfortunately stuck with a misleading mouthful of a title, Salmon Fishing In The Yemen doesn’t happen to have the least to do with an appetite for the tasty catch of the day. Or for that matter recreational sports tourism. But it’s quite an unusual surprise in many other unanticipated ways. And managing to connect without artifice in its own quirky way, themes as wildly disparate as intimate emotions and impassioned global politics.
Effortlessly cast against type is Ewan McGregor as well, the girl this time around. Mcgregor is Dr. Alfred Jones, the meek, henpecked UK spouse of a shrewish absentee wife (Rachael Stirling) more in tune with her music career than conjugal bliss. Jones is nagged at work by his boss as well, where he nevertheless presides at this desk job with dedication and rather obsessive competency as a government fisheries expert.
Summoned into duty one day by a company hired to assist Yemen’s leader, Sheikh Muhammed (Amr Waked) in his dream project of filling a barren lake in the desert with salmon – for both fly-fishing and as a food source for his people – Jones accompanies their despondent consultant Harriet (Emily Blunt) on a joint mission to the Middle East. But Harriet apparently has other fish to fry, as she frets over a soldier boyfriend she barely knew, before he was deployed to Afghanistan and is now missing in action. While Jones diplomatically stifles his own awakened unrequited feelings for his depressed colleague.
Also turning up and bent on stealing everyone else’s thunder – as a character and an actress – is Kristin Scott Thomas as Patricia Maxwell, a perky when not overly intrusive press secretary. Intent on exploiting the situation as a publicity stunt for political gain back home, Maxwell gets faced with some competition for screen time by local rebels displeased to say the least, by what seems like yet another imperialist invasion on Middle Eastern soil.
A number of talents have teamed together to pull off the monumental task conjuring believability into a somewhat mystifying when not mystically leaning story. Including British writer Paul Torday who penned the prize-winning novel on which the movie is based, director Lars Hallstrom (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Cider House Rules), and screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours).
Oddly enough, in much the same manner that a master chef excels in miraculously transforming a soggy fish into a scrumptiously tasty dinner special, Hallstrom and Beaufoy somehow magically spin a euphoric, emotionally convincing tale from an exceedingly eccentric premise or two. And yet providing a much needed injection of cinematic CPR heart and humor into a dismal world situation at the moment, however far fetched.
Trailer of Salmon Fishing In The Yemen: