Movie Review: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Charming , moving, this film has done for fishing what Norman Mailer did for boxing when he brought understanding to the sport by writing The Fight. How can anyone make a movie about a sport as boring and dull as fly fishing? This is near to impossible, but director Lasse Hallstrom has succeeded and then some. Faith. This film is about faith and patience and the beauty of these qualities experienced in the splendor of Scotland and Morocco that represents the Yemen. Ewan McGregor (Dr. Alfred Jones) is sensitive and appealing as the dictatorial scientist who has lost touch with faith. "No one I know goes to church on Sundays. They go to Target," he says to Emily Blunt (Harriet) who is the representative of Amr Waked (Sheikh Mohammed). Harriet's job is to deliver the salmon to Yemen which is the sheikh's wish. But it is Kristin Scott Thomas (Patricia Maxwell) as the Prime Minister's Press Secretary who drives the film with the energy of a grenade. There are spots were the film fades and then in comes Maxwell delivering her dialogue trippingly on the tongue like the finest Shakespearean monologue. Sheikh Mohammed is handsome and has a serentity that a natural born sheikh should have and the good looks and appeal that come with all that, but still the film gets its energy from Thomas and its wit.

The plot is that England needs a sympathetic PR campaign due to the war in Afghanistan. A mosque has been accidentally bombed and the British need to save face in the press. Patricia Maxwell searches for any PR hook and discovers a rich sheikh who believes if he can bring fly fishing for salmon to his country of Yemen, this sport will bring peace. Far fetched, but is it feasible? If she helped the sheikh, his dream would take eyes off of England's' faux pas in Afghanistan. Maxwell contacts Harriet who represents the sheikh to see what she can do to aide in this coming about. Then Maxwell contacts Dr. Alfred Jones who is adorable in his role of dedicated scientist. Dr. Jones believes the salmon project is absurd. He is introduced to Harriet via Maxwell and the rest is history.

Off they go to one of the sheikh's castles where they discuss religion and the spirituality of fishing. Dr. Jones is along for the ride, but finds the spirituality of fishing folly, but not Harriet's beauty which he first notices because of a black evening gown she wears to dine with the sheikh.

Dr. Jones is in a dull marriage and his wife has gone off to Switzerland due to her business affairs. Meanwhile Harriet is in love with a soldier with whom she has had only a few dates. Their sex is steamy. Dr. Jones and his wife's sex life is a snore. The sheikh slyly plays matchmaker. Soon the threesome is off to Yemen to bring fly fishing for salmon to this war-torn country. Harriet's lover has been called off to war.

This is a fantastic, clever idea from an unusual story based on a first novel written by Paul Torday who is in his 60s. It is about a gentle unfolding romance. Simon Beaufoy who has great natural charm in his movies and who wrote Slumdog Millionaire wrote the screenplay.

Does the sheikh's vision succeed? See the film and discover what faith can do for salmon fishing and love. You will leave the theater wearing a smile. The scenery is splendid and the photography is appropriate, not too artsy. It is filmed with respect to simply tell a story. And this is one story that deserves to be told.