Alfred Jones (Ewan McGregor) is a fisheries expert with a respectable academic position in a dead marriage. He is stuck in his routines, and when he hears about the “insane” idea of the Yemen Sheikh (Amr Waked) through an investment company, he is sure that they have all gone mad.
The idea is to introduce “Salmon Fishing” in the Yemen. However he’s blackmailed by his boss into doing it, and his boss was blackmailed into it by the Prime Minister’s press secretary Patricia Maxwell (Kristin Scott Thomas.) She sees this as a crazy yet wonderful opportunity for good press.
The investment company representative, Harriet (Emily Blunt) is also extremely hopeful about the project; and along with the Sheikh’s (Amr Waked)’s unlimited resources, Alfred starts to find himself enthusiastic.
As Harriet and Alfred form a friendship with the Sheikh and each other, Alfred starts to loosen up, become full of life and get drawn to the emotional and natural Emily, who is the exact opposite of his wife. When Harriet’s soldier boyfriend Robert (Tom Mison) is lost in action, it’s Alfred’s turn to provide Emily with support and enthusiasm.
And while Harriet had spent a wonderful couple of weeks with Robert, can it really beat the connection two people find through a shared dream, friendship and the experience of a lifetime?
Then there’s the question of pulling the project off despite the lack of cooperation from the British fishermen and the Yemen Rebels….
Should You See It? Definitely! Here’s why:
1) Swedish director Lasse Hallström. Apart from a movie that I didn’t really care about (Dear John), Hallström has directed movies that filled me with warmth, lust for life and hope. They usually include a decent sense of humor, full of interesting characters, good actors and engaging emotional story.
Some of Lasse Hallström’s films:
- His What’s Eating Gilbert Grape starred Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Juliette Lewis and Mary Steenburgen, bringing Leo an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.
- Chocolat starred Juliette Lewis, Alfred Molina, Peter Stormare, Lena Olin, Judi Dench and Lena Olin. An deven though I don’t like half of Depp’s movies, both Hallström- Depp collaborations ended up as Depp movies I loved.
- Casanova starred Heath Ledger, Jeremy Irons, Oliver Platt, Sienna Miller, Charlie Cox, Lena Olin.
- Hachiko: A Dog’s Story feat. Richard Gere and Joan Allen
2) The actors: Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt and Kristin Scott Thomas were made for their roles, and so was Amr Waked.)
3) The two lead characters are just relatable, entertaining and sweet. I also loved the cultural empathy they display both towards the Sheikh, and the Sheikh to them. His “subtle comments” on Alfred and Harriet’s relationship are priceless.
4) The transformation of McGregor’s character
5) The lines. Especially the Sheikh’s use of British English and slang.
6) The project’s transformation.
7) The scenery, cinematography, the music
I’m not a huge Ewan McGregor fan. I think he is a very good actor, but he usually doesn’t pick my kind of stories. However I really enjoyed Big Fish and The Ghostwriter, and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen became my favorite McGregor effort, as well as one of my fav. Hallström.
Emily Blunt is lovely, Kristin Scott-Thomas is hilarious- especially with her relationship with the prime minister.
Still, it might not be for everybody:
This movie will probably relate more to romantics and dreamers, people who emotionally and professionally put themselves out there to find success and happiness, and self-actualization. It’s also a lovely story about friendship and love, with the project providing the chances and the platform for it.
Currently at 6.9 on IMDB, and I do find it highly underrated. After all, it makes you laugh, smile, think, believe and dream.
Based on the novel by Paul Torday and adapted to screen by Simon Beaufoy.