The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Salmon Fishing In The Yemen | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Salmon Fishing In The Yemen

Directed by: Lasse Hallstrom
Starring: Emily Blunt, Ewan McGregor, Kristin Scott-Thomas, Amr Waked, Tom Mison, Rachael Stirling

The unlikely pairing of Blunt and McGregor team up to help a Yemeni sheik realise his dream of bringing salmon fishing to his land.
Were I one for conspiracy theories I would question the coincidence of this being released the same weekend as the controversial Bahrain grand prix, given that this is essentially a propaganda piece for every egomaniacal dictator in the Arab world. The message here is "follow your dreams", but when said message is delivered by an Arab sheik who never had to work a day in his life, forgive me for not getting on board. The real message is if you have enough money nothing is impossible. It also helps if you control some oil and can make western nations bend over backwards to help you.
McGregor plays an expert from the fisheries department and he's a deeply unlikable character who never fully redeems himself at any point. Why someone as beautiful and witty as Blunt's character would be attracted to him is beyond me. As if it wasn't difficult enough to root for this budding relationship, the movie asks us to make a dodgy moral judgement. Blunt's boyfriend is a soldier who has gone MIA in Afghanistan so if we are to take McGregor's side we basically have to hope a soldier has been killed. This would be a fine dramatic twist if the situation wasn't played so lightly. Heaven forbid a war widow ever sits down to watch this.
The attempts at comedy are painful, scenes depicting text messages between the prime minister and Scott-Thomas' foul-mouthed press officer particularly cringeworthy. Blunt and Scott-Thomas are very capable comic performers but McGregor seems to be getting worse with every role he takes. His comic timing is terrible, especially when paired with the magnetic Blunt, an actress who justifies that wornout cliche "the new Audrey Hepburn". 
There's also a crassly pro-religious message throughout this, McGregors scientist is shown as a man who lacks warmth and humanity because his life is missing "faith". If I was as rich and powerful as a Yemeni sheikh I'd have a lot of faith too.