Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 29th April, 2012
Impossible dreams are what drive humankind forward: we were given free will to think the unthinkable. Karl Popper used to talk about creative leaps of the imagination and although doubtless some people will think me pretentious for saying so, that is what came to my mind as I emerged from watching Lasse Holstrom’s Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. Based on the best-selling novel by Paul Torday, the movie recounts the quest by an extremely rich Arab shekih (Amr Waked) to reproduce the thrill (for him) of salmon fishing on one of his Scottish Highland estates, but in the Yemen, with the aid of a dam, a Scottish ichthyologist (Ewan McGregor) and a smart young female public relations-cum-mnagement consultant (Emily Blunt). Like many dreams,the scheme is preposterous, yet passion and commitment — and pots of money — make it happen, even if initial victory is swept away by the forces of reaction. It’s a powerful story, shot against wonderful backdrops of Scotland and Morocco (a safer stand-in for the Yemen) and there is much acting, notably by Ewan McGregor, whose portrayal of the single-minded fish specialist is both bathetic and endearing. Kristin Scott Thomas as the hard-nosed (indeed, hard everything) press relations guru of a shallow British Prime Minister is a sort of cross between Alistair Campbell and Cruella De Ville; it may be a caricature but it is an effective one and underlines her potenial as a bitchy Maggie Smith for future cameo roles. All in all, a feel-good film that mixes high drama with some good jokes and an often intelligent script. Another ‘hit’ for the British film industry, I’m sure.