Director: Lasse Hallström
Starring : Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas, Amr Waked, Tom Mison
Running Time : 107 minutes
Release Date : In Cinemas Now
Harriet (Blunt) is a UK investment consultant to a Yemeni Sheik (Waked). The Sheik enjoys salmon fishing and wishes to bring the sport to his homeland. As well as providing him with constant access to his favourite pastime, he hopes to provide resources, agriculture and jobs for his people. As the Yemen is a dry, desert country, this is quite a challenge.
Harriet contacts a salmon expert, Dr Fred Jones (McGregor) at the governments fisheries department for help and the duo embark on this most challenging of projects.
Simultaneously, the UK government is looking for a good news story out of the middle east and the Prime Minister’s scathingly brilliant press secretary Patricia (Scott Thomas) decides that salmon fishing in the Yemen is just the story she needs.
The Sheik wants his salmon stream. Harriet wants to make it happen. Dr Jones says it is feasible but so is a manned mission to Mars. Patricia wants to milk this story for all it’s worth and will meddle and cajole and threaten whoever she come across to get what she wants. The scene is set for a fantastically fun movie.
The movie opens with the gorgeous Harriet finishing an email to Dr Jones regarding his thoughts on getting salmon to the Yemen. She is on her way out for a date with her dashing army boyfriend. It is all very new and she is shy and nervous with him. Cut to the more reserved Dr Jones as he emails his negative reply. He is quite, conservative and married. I sense romance in the air. All movies that begin by going to such lengths to show how different two people are have romance in mind.
Once Dr Jones realises that the Sheik is very serious about his venture and that money really is no obstacle, he begins work on the project in earnest. I should say that after being threatened with the sack, he begins work in earnest.
The PM’s press secretary, Patricia, begins her meddling almost immediately. She is ruthless and shrewd and utterly hilarious. Her very dry with a hint of smutty British humour is a winning combination. Her discovery that 2 million Brits are keen fishermen…..or ‘play with their rods’ as she so keenly observes….delights her no end as all she can see is more press opportunity for her Prime Minister.
The attraction between Harriet and Fred is hampered and helped by their current relationships and their working so closely together. Is it simply a working relationship or is there more? I won’t go into these too much as I will spoil them for you.
The Sheik is also a major part of this story. He is not just a rich man who pays the bills and will appear when the salmon are running, he is very much involved and emotionally invested in this enterprise. He too develops very real relationships with both Harriet and, more importantly, Fred. Their shared love of salmon fishing binds them and an act of bravery cements a friendship you suspect will cross all barriers and last a lifetime.
This movie is just beautifully shot. From the glorious Scottish hillsides to the desert of the Yemen, the scenery is spectacular. The contrast between the hustle and bustle of the big city to the serenity of the lush rivers of Scotland and the dry, rocky emptiness of Yemen is breath taking to behold.
The characters, as you would expect from actors of this experience and calibre, are beautifully played. They are fleshed out and believable. Even the awkwardness and bumbling of Fred is a delight to watch. Blunt shines as the sweet yet ambitious consultant and Scott Thomas is absolutely divine as the no nonsense press secretary. McGregor plays it straight and geeky and gets the most laughs, usually at his own expense and by his own self-deprecating wit.
Never would I have thought that I would be hoping and crossing fingers that the salmon would run. But I did just that. The characters and project was just so likeable and positive that any notion that it may fail was horrible. But the truth is not everyone agreed with the Sheik’s ideas of a future for his country. And they go to great lengths to stop it all from happening.
I learned a lot today…..mostly about salmon and fly fishing. I cannot comprehend why anyone would want to wade thigh deep into a cold river to fish for fish that are notoriously difficult to catch. But I really want to give it a go now. I like the idea of the skill involved in flicking the rod. You don’t just cast a line and wait with this type of fishing. There is some serious skill involved.
I liked this movie a great deal and would recommend it to anyone. It is funny and dramatic and quirky and endearing all at once. All the good things you have heard about it is true. So what are you waiting for? It’s nearing the end of it’s run so you better get to the cinema quick!
Thank you to my friends at Scotty’s Cinema Centre for their hospitality.