From the director of The Cider House Rules and the writer of Slumdog Millionaire comes this political-spinning drama about Fred (Ewan McGregor), a government fisheries scientist asked to introduce British salmon to the Wadis of the Temen by an enthusiastic Arab. Based on the novel by Paul Torday. Click here for movie times.
What a mouthful of a title - and a preposterous idea - but the absurdity of this film is what makes it work. Figuratively, it’s a distinctly British comedy about love, faith and believing in the impossible. But it’s also, literally, a film in which Ewan McGregor’s Dr Jones and Emily Blunt’s Harriet have to figure out a way of building a wealthy, desert-dwelling sheik an artificial fly-fishing playground, an idea explained by a dreamy shot in which McGregor swims upstream against a city crowd.
The film spends plenty of time trying to convince the audience this isn’t simply a greedy waste of time and is instead an inspirational endeavour for the greater good of the Yemeni people. Amr Waked’s portrayal of the sheik as a man for whom fishing is a spiritual pursuit helps to gloss over the gnawing sense that what they’re doing is ludicrous. Then there’s the somewhat awkward subplot in which Harriet’s new boyfriend goes off to Afghanistan.
But thanks to Simon Beaufoy’s fantastically witty script and a playful, knowing performance from Blunt as the sheik’s consultant negotiating with McGregor’s uptight fisheries expert, Salmon Fishing is a fun and often unpredictable ride. The two main stars are almost as entertaining as Kristin Scott Thomas as the Prime Minister’s bolshie PR chief, forever on a mission to spin things to her advantage (the salmon project is one of few news stories to come out of the Middle East). Her barbed banter with the PM over instant messaging provides some of the funniest lines in the film. Turns out salmon really is good for the brain. As long as you don’t mind the fishy aftertaste.