If you’ve a soft spot for romantic comedies you’ll fall hook, line and sinker for Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, a smartly written, hugely entertaining rom-com that proves the ideal showcase for Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt’s charm and chemistry.
McGregor plays stuffy fisheries expert Dr Fred Jones, a tweedy scientist who reacts with derision when Blunt’s delectable PR consultant, Harriet Chetwode-Talbot, proposes the whimsical project that gives the film its title – introducing salmon to the wadis of the Yemen.
The dream of Harriet’s boss, a fly-fishing-mad sheikh (Egyptian heartthrob Amr Waked), the scheme attracts the interest of the British PM’s briskly cynical press secretary (Kristin Scott Thomas at her imperious best), who is desperately casting around for a good news story that will deflect attention from the government’s latest cock-ups.
Leaned upon to provide support, the sceptical Fred is gradually won over to the Sheikh’s eccentric plan and, even more surprisingly (he’s married; she has a soldier boyfriend), ends up falling for Harriet too.
Boasting gorgeous photography, appealing performances and a witty script, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is a real treat. Blunt is perfect as the emotionally fragile Harriet and McGregor is a delight as the buttoned-up boffin who learns to loosen up, quelling any doubts that he would prove a fish out of water in the rom-com genre (unlike fellow Scot David Tennant in The Decoy Bride).
Less unexpected is that Chocolat director Lasse Hallström’s habitual sweet tooth should be in evidence, but Full Monty writer Simon Beaufoy’s screenplay, adapted from Paul Torday’s best-selling novel, provides moments of sharp political satire to stop things getting too cloying, though the sub-plots involving Muslim extremists and Harriet’s missing-in-action soldier boyfriend sometimes jar with the overall feel-good mood. But seeing Movie Talk’s HQ doubling up as Harriet’s swanky workplace left me smiling.
Movie Talk star rating:
On general release from Friday 20th April.
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