"Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" is based on a novel by Paul Torday and is directed by Lasse Hallström who also brought Chocolat, Slumdog Millionaire, and What's Eating Gilbert Grape to the screen. The movie stars Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, and Kristin Scott Thomas in roles that are absolutely perfect for each of them.
Fred Jones (McGregor) is a fisheries expert for the British Government who is called upon to oversee a rather unusual task. With terrorist activity and war in the middle east, Great Britain is looking for something positive with a connection between their country's government and that of their troubled neighbors to the south east.
After running across a small news story about a wealthy Sheik (Amr Waked) who wants to build a dam in the Yemen River and introduce salmon in to it as a way to expand his people's agricultural opportunities and create economic growth, press secretary Patricia Maxwell (Thomas) makes it the number one priority project to be completed and used as an uplifting public relations story.
Hesitant about the project at first, Jones does everything he can to get out of the project but, after seeing the Yemen river first hand and realizing the project may actually have a chance at success, he decides to see it through. With the help of Harriet, a government liaison, the two are not only able to create change in something most thought was impossible, but also begin to change how they see their own lives and the personal struggles that have been dominating them.
The first thing I will say about this movie is that it is a very smart, and well written comedy that gives great opportunities for the cast to do what they do best. McGregor and Blunt are wonderful together and you see a chemistry between the two that is very believable.
Another highlight is Kristin Scott Thomas as she gives Mrs. Maxwell a super sharp wit and an attitude that is strong willed yet irresistibly charming. She is a joy to watch as she absolutely owns every scene she is in. As far as the story, there are a few moments where you feel like it is getting a little out there, but with all the great acting, you really don't even care.
"Salmon Fishing on the Yemen" is a heartfelt tale about relationships and realizing where you are in life with a little bit of environmentalism and political satire thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately, the odd sounding title alone may keep some people from seeing this film, but I'm sure those that do give it a chance will be very happy they did.