Today: July 13, 2024

Salmon Fishing In The Yemen DVD

Having cornered the ‘Oldies’ market recently with the light-hearted

Having
cornered the ‘Oldies’ market recently with the light-hearted Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, it seems British films are moving onto
tackling that difficult mid-life crisis patch with the same degree of warm
humour. Lasse Hallström’s
adaptation of Paul Torday‘s novel nabs Slumdog writer Simon Beaufoy and throws in a few unusual tonal shifts along the
way to its inevitable middle-of-the-road finale.

Stuck in a dull marriage and job,
fisheries expert Fred Jones (Ewan
McGregor)
is reluctantly
asked to help oversee a project which will see salmon fishing introduced to the
Yemen courtesy of a visionary, wealthy sheik (Amr
Waked)
. As the bizarre project begins to blossom, so do Jones’ feelings for
his co-worker Harriet (Emily
Blunt)
, herself concerned for her soldier boyfriend’s welfare while on duty
abroad.

Adapting popular novels can be a
tricky proposition, especially for fans. However, Hallström manages
to fuse Torday’s book of emails, diary entries and transcripts into something
resembling a coherent narrative that, for the first half at least, is warm,
engaging and surprisingly amusing. Most of the laughs come from Kristin Scott Thomas’ expletive-ridden No.10 Press Officer
(where have we seen that before?) or from McGregor’s attempts as Dr Jones to
make sense of the ridiculous idea he’s faced with. For a man whose yearly
highlight seems to be a quick roll-on/roll-off session with his uppity wife
after a wind band practice, it must seem extra-extraordinary.

So once it becomes clear that Emily
Blunt’s warm-hearted, emotional Harriet might be more than just a colleague,
Jones begins to realise just how ordinary his life is and that the unusual
project could inject him with a happiness he’d never thought possible.

So far, so good. However, after an
enjoyably light first half, Salmon
Fishing
shifts in tone half
way through as it becomes clear Scott Thomas’ spin doctor is a bit colder than The Thick of It’s Malcolm Tucker and a touch more
calculating. Add in a highly improbable assassination plot line and some
relationship traumas and things begin to unravel for a while before Torday’s macguffin of
a plot device – the fish – swim to the rescue and grab some credibility in the
final third.

So while there’s plenty to enjoy from
McGregor and Blunt’s romantic escapades and Scott Thomas’ quick tongue, you
can’t help but feel you’re being reeled in to watch a rather tepid rom-com
hiding behind a supposed satirical swipe at modern government. If you don’t
mind that then Salmon Fishing is highly likely to reward those who
take the bait but for everyone else you may just feel there’s something fishy
going on.

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