Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
This frothy offering from Director/Writer team Lasse HallstrÖm (WHAT’S EATING GILBERT GRAPE/CHOCOLAT) and Simon Beaufoy (SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE/THE FULL MONTY) had audiences in Norwich hooting with laughter.
The tale of an eccentric Sheik who decides to create a Scottish-style salmon loch in the middle of the desert has some clunky symbolism at its heart – as arid relationships get renewed all round (yawn). But the idea has some quirky charm, as do the performances from romantic leads Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt. Unfortunately, as feature films go, it’s all a bit unsatisfactory, with an episodic structure that doesn’t build logically in terms of narrative or emotion.
Behind comedy there is tragedy, as we know, but behind this film is the one they weren’t brave enough to make: the one in which the Sheik repays McGregor’s character for saving his life by having his friend’s rival in love swept away by some well-timed flooding, for example; or the one in which Emily Blunt’s military daughter chooses the young soldier over the middle aged Scot with baggage. The film, indeed, in which we are clear as to the job titles of the main characters – I was never sure what Miss Blunt’s office job was, or why she was engaged in the whole thing in the first place.
I don’t think a bit of depth, daring or accuracy would have detracted from what was, otherwise, a highly enjoyable watch. On the other hand, I’m certainly not going to suggest that you don’t go and see it. The on-screen chemistry between Blunt and McGregor, and the loving shots of mountains and desert are worth the ticket in themselves. As for the visual storytelling, from campfire to glittering water, and well-dressed characters staring moodily beside billowing tents…it carries you away.
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