Trouble Down Stream
When a mosque is blown up in the middle east the Prime Minister's press officer Patricia Maxwell (Kristin Scott Thomas) wants a good news story to divert attention away from it which is why she wants fisheries expert Dr. Alfred Jones (Ewan McGregor) to meet with Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Emily Blunt) who is the British financial advisor to a Sheik who wishes to bring Salmon fishing to the Yemen. Thinking it is utterly ridiculous Alfred tries to put an end to it but with the Sheik's endless finances "No" is not a word he knows and so Alfred and Harriet find themselves heading to the Yemen to build a river for Salmon. Forced in to spending time together leads to romantic complications especially for Alfred who knows his marriage is purely functionary and coming to an end whilst Harriet has a boyfriend who is missing in action in Afghanistan.
Picture the scene; Ewan McGregor in his fishing gear standing next to Amr Waked in full robes befitting of a Sheik in a Scottish river with water up to their waste as they fly fish. It sounds daft but applicably daft for a movie called "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen". The thing is that this kind of thing, especially from director Lasse Hallstr├Âm, usually charms me but for some reason I found "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" a bit of a slog, too slow, too quiet, too daft and too forced in places for my taste.
But having said that it hits all of its expected marks with some light insightful dialogue such as a discussion between the Sheik and Alfred about faith and religion and the connection with the faith of a fisherman who waits hours in the belief he will catch something. There is also lashings of beautiful cinematography which makes you wish you were there rather than staring at a screen. Plus there is the humour not only of a sheik whose money makes things happen to Alfred's surprise but also the romantic comedy of Harriet and the straight laced Alfred.
There is how this plays out with some surprises when it comes to what happens in Yemen and to be honest whilst I won't divulge them it also adds an element of feeling forced. Unfortunately there is lots of things which don't quite sit right for me and I couldn't take to Ewan McGregor's straight laced performance as it felt much more awkward than it needed to be to the point of being false. Kristin Scott Thomas also struggles with an over the top performance as the press officer which is a waste of her talent.
What this all boils down to is that for me "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" didn't quite work whilst still actually working which I know doesn't make sense. I actually think for me Ewan McGregor was wrong for the role and it is his intentionally awkward performance which is too awkward for my liking and which drags the movie down.