Amr Waked and Ewan McGregor hope for a bite as the stars of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.

Amr Waked and Ewan McGregor hope for a bite as the stars of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.

Reel Reviews: Reel in this funny, heartfelt fish tale

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is A River Runs Through It set in the desert, starring Ewan McGregor and Amr Waked.

  • May. 20, 2012 7:00 p.m.

A wealthy Sheik (Amr Waked,) has a dream: a Yemeni river that not only doesn’t dry up every summer, but also provides salmon and salmon fishing.

To this end he spends millions of dollars and instructs his personal assistant (Emily Blunt) to hire a fisheries expert from Scotland (Ewan McGregor) to make his dream a reality.

Fighting British political propaganda, Muslim fundamentalism, their own self-doubt and nature itself, will they finally prove the ancient adage: “Give a man a fish, he eats for a day, but if a man builds a river and stocks it with fish, his people eat forever”?

We say, “See it if you understand fisherman philosophy: As in, ‘Ach… We’ll see.’”

HOWE: The Brits are normally pretty good at making heartfelt, touching, real-life films. This one is no different. It has a good storyline and great cast.

TAYLOR: The comedy in this film comes from the situation, the characters themselves are quite stock: The hard-nosed scientist, the stuffy Brit, the hyper-efficient assistant, the spiritual and eloquent Sheik, the sneaky bureaucrats. However, despite the somewhat predictable and formulaic conclusions of the various subplots of the film, I still enjoyed it.

HOWE: I loved the visuals they used, the landscapes were fantastic and shot very well; from the tranquil mountains of Scotland, to the hustle and bustle of London to the dusty desert of Yemen, (which was actually Morocco.)

TAYLOR: I’m a big fan of water on film and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen has buckets full, sometimes in slow motion. There were also some nice metaphorical moments, such as the scientist figuratively swimming against western society’s flow. Both Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor are fine actors and their portrayal in this film does not wow, but it also doesn’t offend.

HOWE: I agree, both Blunt and McGregor did fine, but Kristin Scott Thomas stole the show. With her sharp tongue and wicked glares, I wouldn’t of messed with the PM’s PR person either.

TAYLOR: She was great and provided the biggest laughs.

HOWE: It had a little bit of comedy, some of the English terms they used I hadn’t heard for a long time and it did give me a good chuckle. The softer, gentler side of the movie was subtle, perhaps too subtle.

TAYLOR: The fact that it wasn’t overbearing in its romantic aspects was something which pleased me. I’m glad that this wasn’t a romantic movie, as much as it was a film in which a quiet romance occurred, as such the story remained interesting to me.

HOWE: Overall I did enjoy Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. Mr. Taylor, I’m afraid you have to go see Battleship yourself, I’m off fishing.

TAYLOR: Pfft! Battleship, here’s the shortest “pre-review” ever, “Splash!”

–– Howe gives Salmon Fishing in the Yemen 3 flies out of 5.

–– Taylor gives it 2.5 scales out of 5.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is currently showing at Vernon’s Towne Cinema.

–– Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are movie critics living in Vernon, B.C.