Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (Lasse Hallström)

It was probably this Guardian article by David Cox that led me to consider reviewing Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, for the sole reason that I feel like this was a film made for older people.

From the 2006 bestseller by Paul Torday, (better described as an airplane-paperback that should be left on the plane) and Lasse Hallstrom, the director famous for his sugary literary adaptations (Chocolat, The Cider House Rules), comes this generic British rom-com for the geriatric.

Whereas the novel was a New Labour satire, where the Blarite government back the plan of an eccentric sheik to introduce salmon fishing to the Yemen as a ploy to improve the appearance of East/West relations, the film focuses on the insipid courtship of Scottish scientist Dr. Alfred Jones (Ewan McGregor) and the sheik’s assistant Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Emily Blunt).

In its favour, this is no simple boy-meets-girl scenario; Jones is married and Talbot is a devoted girlfriend, so falling in love over the romance of fishing seems unlikely. However, their mutual attraction blossoms and the plot develops into question of  will-they-won’t-they leave their significant others.

McGregor almost exemplifies the film’s target audience: the repressed and unadventurous aged  Brit, ready to be gently wooed by the politeness and beauty of Emily Blunt over offers of nice sandwiches, cups of tea and views of rural Scotland and the Yemen (filmed in Morocco). Goodness knows why this film was rated 12A, their sordid affair goes as far as holding hands.

Kristin Scott Thomas is the only bite in this otherwise mushy drama, stepping into the role of Patricia Maxwell, press secretary to the British Prime Minister. Her bitchy businesswoman nods to the likes of Malcolm Tucker & co, taking all the best lines and generally stealing the show (a step up from her performance in Bel Ami).

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is in cinemas now




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