Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Located at the southernmost tip of the Arabian Peninsula, the Republic of Yemen is known for being a growing source of natural gas and a Middle Eastern political hotspot. It is not renowned for its salmon population, however – a fact that billionaire fly-tying enthusiast Sheikh Muhammed (Amr Waked) wants to correct by creating a fish-friendly lake in the region. Britain’s federal fisheries expert (Ewan McGregor) thinks the concept is ludicrous. Given a UK military snafu in Afghanistan, however, the Prime Minister’s press secretary (Kristin Scott Thomas) is fast-tracking the Sheikh’s proposed folly as a PR salve. And so, our fussy government employee is forcibly paired with Muhammed’s personal girl Friday (Emily Blunt) to make this impossible dream a reality.
There is little doubt that McGregor’s manic civil servant and Blunt’s cool-as-a-cucumber assistant will fall in love; that the film’s Arabic version of a Magical Negro will dispense homilies on Eastern-exotica enlightenment; that an MIA-soldier boyfriend and hostile locals will eventually come into play; and that, as usual, director Lasse Hallström (Chocolat) will do his damnedest to cause early-onset diabetes in his viewers. It’s a shameless affair even by this veteran sap purveyor’s standards, a mushy combination of dreamy travelogue (did Yemen’s tourism board commission this?) and dewey-eyed wish fulfilment that makes its source material, Paul Torday’s 2006 anglerphile novel, seem positively complex by comparison. Only Kristin Scott Thomas channelling In the Loop’s Malcolm Tucker offers a spark; the rest is simply hokum designed to land overly sentimental suckers hook, line and sinker.
From Time Out New York
Dir Lasse Hallström, category IIA, 107 mins, opens on June 14