“Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” on film
“Salmon Fishing in the Yemen,” in theaters now, is exactly that kind of film. It’s based off a novel that I haven’t read by Paul Torday, and turned out to be a totally compelling few hours of film entertainment. A trailer for it had caught my eye, and so when my husband shooed me out of the house to get some much-appreciated “me” time, I headed to the movie theater and got lost in the dark for a while.
Alfred “Fred” Jones (played by Ewan McGregor) is a leading British expert on fisheries. He’s got poor social kills and really only cares about fish, and there’s a suggestion he may have Asperger’s syndrome, though I can’t say for sure. (I imagine the book goes into that more.) That said, he’s quite likable. When a wealthy Sheik who loves to fish wants to introduce salmon into the Yemen, a consultant named Harriet (Emily Blunt) has to convince Fred to lead the project, even though Fred claims it’s impossible. Thanks to the Prime Minister’s Press Secetary’s search for an Anglo-Arab goodwill story in the middle of nothing but war coverage, Fred and Harriet are soon off like rockets trying to bring this probably impossible project to life – they’re whisked off to the Sheik’s palace and then to Yemen, both escaping unhappy home lives. Harriet has an M.I.A. soldier boyfriend, and Fred’s marriage is completely loveless. As happens in so many films, these two strangers miles away from home form an unlikely friendship that may or may not lead to something more.
The delightful film is way funnier than I expected it to be, probably due to Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt both being charming screen presences. McGregor, especially, does wonders with a role that other actors might have gone an entirely different way with. Kristin Scott Thomas, as the Press Secretary, is a stitch as well – just wait for the scene where she cuts her moody pre-teen son down to size with a few well–phrased sentences. Amr Waked, as the Sheik, is also an interesting presence. He’s an actor who is clearly having a blast playing his role, an going toe to toe with McGregor’s Fred about science vs. faith.
Also, Emily Blunt’s Harriet might have the cutest wardrobe I can remember in recent movies. I just needed to point that out.
I cannot tell you how much I want to go stand in a river after seeing this movie. Well done, “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.” Well done, you.