Romance trumps satire in this fun farcical tale - Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (M)
Director: Lasse Hallström With: Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Amr Waked, Kristin Scott Thomas
This intriguingly titled film, adapted by screenwriter Simon Beaufoy from Paul Torday’s bestselling novel, has a number of things going for it and they include McGregor, Blunt, Waked and Scott Thomas.
They are all charming in their roles in this unlikely story of a Yemeni sheikh (Waked) who, with unlimited funds at his disposal, has ambitions to introduce salmon fishing into the highlands of the southern Arabian peninsula. He is a passionate fisherman himself.
When fisheries expert Dr Alfred Jones (McGregor) is approached by the sheik’s factotum Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Blunt) to help implement the sheik’s plans, he is dismissive, one would say brusque in declining the offer.
But there are bigger things at stake here. There are two million salmon fishing voters in the UK and the news from the Middle East is consistently bad. The Prime Minister’s press/spokesperson Patricia Maxwell (Scott Thomas) learns of the sheikh’s plan and jumps on it for its potential for good news and for winning over the fishing voters. Dr Jones ends up with no choice in the matter.
What seems to be an extravagant eccentricity on the part of the sheikh turns out to have a much more rational and green basis than one first suspects, as Dr Jones learns as he gets to know the man.
What was written as a satire has turned into a romance between Dr Jones and Harriet. Unfortunately, there are impediments to their bonding. He is married, rather unsatisfactorily, and she has promised to wait for her British solider boyfriend who has gone missing in action in Afghanistan. The character of Patricia Maxwell, which Kristin Scott Thomas makes deliciously her own, is an indication of the farcical elements of the book.
Lasse Hallström who, early in his career, made such good films as My Life As A Dog and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, has increasingly opted for the soft, sentimental approach to his filmmaking and his mark is unmistakable here. What he does have going for him is a fine, attractive cast, a romantic setting and a crazy notion. It’s just that the satire is missing.
Margaret’s verdict: Three and a half stars
Tags: , Movies