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Salmon Fishing in the Yemen – movie review
Release date: 20 April 2012
Director: Lasse Hallström
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas
What's the story?
Against his better judgement, government scientist Fred Jones (McGregor) accepts an invitation from a pretty consultant (Blunt) to fly to the Yemen and help a sheikh build a salmon farm.
What did we think?
Fans of Paul Torday's popular source novel will miss its satirical sting, not to mention the Andrew Marr and Boris Johnson cameos. Newcomers to the tale, however, should find Lasse Hallström's flick a pleasing bit of whimsy and will get a kick out of Kristin Scott Thomas's waspish spin doctor.
Given that Dubai has a ski slope and Qatar a World Cup, the idea of a Yemeni sheikh using his oil billions to bring the gentle sport to fly fishing to the desert doesn't sound all that outlandish. But it was when Paul Torday wrote his 2007 bestseller, brought to the screen now by Chocolat director Lasse Hallström and Slumdog Millionaire scribe Simon Beaufoy.
Rich Arab potentates apart, the real target of Torday's book was the Blairite culture of bureaucratic waffle and wall to wall spin. Beaufoy, however, casts off pretty much all of that, opting instead to focus on the halting romance that develops between cold fish Ewan McGregor and warm-blooded Emily Blunt, lonely souls brought together in the Wadi to make the sheikh's hare-brained folly a reality.
Such a touchy-feely approach will doubtless make Hallström's film more palatable to a mainstream audience and offset two rather disconcerting scenes involving a terrorist bombing and an assassination attempt. For those who like lemon on their fish, though, there's always Kristin Scott Thomas, smartly channelling Labour's former director of communications Alistair Campbell as a Whitehall mandarin who sees the scheme as a means of generating favourable headlines in the Middle East.
Verdict: Pick the bones out of this one.
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