Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Film, Drama
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(9user reviews)
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Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Swedish director Lasse Hallström specialises in marshmallowy adaptations of 3-for-2 paperbacks: ‘The Cider House Rules’ and ‘Chocolat’ were showered with award nominations, but Channing Tatum’s bronzed torso was the nearest his last effort, the Nicholas Sparks gloopfest ‘Dear John’, got to an Oscar. This attractively mounted but terminally twee take on Paul Torday’s comic bestseller could woo back the prestige crowd -- though it’s a contender for screen history’s least sexily titled romance.

Torday’s 2007 novel was a jaunty New Labour satire, imagining a Blairite government backing a loopy Yemeni sheik’s plan to introduce wild salmon fisheries to his native land. If that doesn’t sound particularly suited to Hallström’s sensibility, screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (‘Slumdog Millionaire’) makes up the difference largely by gutting the source material of its satire.

Instead, focus is fixed on the insipidly chaste courtship between Emily Blunt, as the perky businesswoman charged with selling the sheik’s idea to the Brits, and Ewan McGregor, as the stuffed-shirt scientist reluctantly roped into the scheme. He’s married, while her soldier boyfriend (Tom Mison) is missing in Iraq; neither of these commitments is a match for Beaufoy’s steady stream of follow-your-heart-and-swim-against-the-tide metaphors.

The stars are endearing enough to keep things tolerable, though you may wonder why even McGregor’s Scots brogue sounds artificially sweetened here. It’s left to the reliably tangy Kristin Scott Thomas to spike things up a bit: in the gender-switched role of the PM’s impressively awful spokesperson, a woman who views the salmon plan entirely as a means of winning votes from the rural ‘Fishy Weekly’ (as she mispronounces it) demographic, she’s seemingly the only person on set who has read the novel at all. Addressing press, colleagues and her kids alike with equal jolly-hockeysticks distaste, she appears to have waded from an Armando Iannucci script into far less risky waters.

By: Guy Lodge


Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Friday April 20 2012
Duration: 107 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Lasse Hallström
Screenwriter: Simon Beaufoy
Cast: Kristin Scott Thomas
Emily Blunt
Ewan McGregor

Average User Rating

2.6 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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  • 4 star:3
  • 3 star:4
  • 2 star:2
  • 1 star:0
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Delightful and charming, very predictable but well acted by the two main leads. I'd forgotten just how versatile an actor Ewan Mcgregor is and there's real chemistry between him and Emily Blunt who matches his acting abilities. Kristin Scott Thomas is well cast and hilarious as the PMs aide. A very pleasant film

Ric Braz

Like others really enjoyed but not quite sure why. Friends who had read the book kept mentioning all the differences but for myself I thought it was well made, not too serious but very well acted. A bit like My week with Marilyn not the deepest film you will see but really good to watch. I always find it funny when people comment on the fact the trailer looked better. Well of course it did because they always try to put the best bits into the thing. Like highlights of a football match comapred with the full 90 minutes.


A nice easy watch rom-com to pass a couple of hours away. Just one comment as a fisherwoman - the Sheik would never have caught a salmon & got it in that quickly!!!! just saying..........! an ok film


Recipe for Over-Baked Fish Pie: Take three well-known actors, a catchy but intriguing title, and lightly poach in schmaltz. Meanwhile, add in a script written by an 8 year old, a director who clearly doesn’t shout "Action" but "Over-Action", and blend with some wooden acting. Result - the makings of a concoction to delight any Mills & Boon reader, or anyone who enjoyed "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel". Serve with oak-aged chardonay.


Don't really understand why, but I loved it. It could have become a sort of Four Weddings and a Funeral formulaic type film but it was more comedy a la Bridget Jones Diary. I laughed out loud quite a few times, as did the rest of the audience.


Really rather liked it. Did wonder where Ewan's pristine clobber came from after the entire project was washed away in the valley filling flood though! No matter, comfy, well rounded romance. 7/10


A very British BBC films rom-com which we do very well. Meaning it's a a pleasant way to while away a couple of hours at the cinema.


Not as good a film as the trailer hinted at. Its reasonable enough and Scott Thomas is excellent. Blunt looks great and acts well but the real flaw is that however you look at it you can't see her character and McGregor's sceptical fish expert getting it together. Not bad but not great. Maybe worth 6 out of 10.


Amiable enough rom-com. There are some humorous moments especially in the first half. Kirsten Scott Thomas is good as are the young couple. Since I never read the book I had nothing to compare the film to.