Saturday, March 24, 2012

‘Salmon Fishing’ is a Great Date Movie

The sheik (Amr Waked) and Dr. Alfred Jones
(Ewan McGregor) enjoy some fly-fishing during their
first meeting. (Credit: CBS Films)

With all the hoopla over the excitement of “The Hunger Games” coming out this weekend, very little attention has been given to another film also just arriving in theaters: “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.” This intelligent comedy is by the Oscar-winning screenwriter of “Slumdog Millionaire, “Simon Beaufoy and the director of “Chocolate,” Lasse Hallstrom and it is worth swimming upstream for.

The unbelievable yet charming film begins with a visionary sheik (Amr Waked) wanting to bring fishing into the dessert. The man has a lot of cash burning holes in his robes, so if the project could be successful, he can fund it. His representative, Harriet (Emily Blunt), is all over this project and quickly recruits Britain’s leading fisheries expert, Dr. Alfred Jones, (Ewan McGregor) for help. He initially doesn’t believe that it can be possible, but is given a nice salary to try anyway.

Meanwhile, the sheik is being criticized for wanting to waste his money on something so frivolous – just so he can go fly-fishing in his own backyard, but he has a bigger vision for the fish. It is in his faith that ultimately helps Jones to come around on the project. Finally, The Prime Minister’s press secretary, Patricia Maxwell, (Kristin Scott Thomas) is desperately seeking a good will story and latches onto this project as well.

Besides the main storyline, Alfred and Harriet have their own stories, making this a well-rounded film. Alfred is an uptight man of science and it is enjoyable seeing his character loosen up and embrace a life of faith instead. Waked, not well-known to American audiences, (he played an uncredited role in last year’s “Contagion”), is inspiring as a visionary who seems to know his’ guests better than they know themselves. Thomas is a hoot as the press secretary who shows an amazing knack for being in control all of the time in both her professional and family lives. (Her poor children!)

Unfortunately, “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” has had very little publicity and probably will come and go without many seeing it, which is a shame. It features two of the biggest stars right now, follows the story of two people becoming great friends before falling in love, beautiful scenery and genuine laughs. It’s not too gushy for men and not too outdoorsy for women. Its biggest drawback is its title and  the names of its characters. Alfred? Harriet? Really? 

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