Now Showing on Cable: “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen”


Making its debut this weekend on Showtime was last year’s “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen”, starring Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt.

“Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” tells the story of two people involved in trying to introduce salmon to the Yemen River, at the behest of a wealthy Sheikh in the region. McGregor plays a an expert who initially decries the effort as unfeasible, but who slowly comes around to the possibility. He and Blunt have to work through the difficulties of both the project and their romantic lives.

It’s a lightweight little movie that won’t ask much of you over its runtime, but its optimism, combined with the charm of the leads, make it an enjoyable watch.

When a wealthy Sheikh envisions introducing salmon fishing to his Arab country, he asks his financial services firm to investigate the possibilities on his behalf. Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Emily Blunt), a representative of the firm, contacts government fishery expert Fred Jones (Ewan McGregor) to lead the project. Jones insists that such a thing is impossible. There are far too many environmental factors working against the idea, the river is simply not suitable for sustaining salmon. The Prime Minister’s office (represented by Kristin Scott Thomas in the film) gets wind of the project, however, and puts their might behind it. They’re desperate for a favorable news item to highlight positive Anglo-Arab relations. So, in spite of the fact that he’s expressed an extensive inventory of obstacles, Jones finds himself assigned to introduce salmon into a desert clime.

Sheikh Muhammad, the man behind the project, turns out to be a charismatic, intelligent individual, who’s quite persuasive. He’s an enormous fan of fishing, and feels that introducing salmon fashion to the region would be a boon for his people. Eventually, his passion for the project begins to rub off on Jones, who slowly turns from a skeptic to a believer.

Jones and Chetwode-Talbot each happen to be in difficult positions romantically when the story begins. Jones’ relationship with his wife is strained, and she accepts a work assignment abroad just as the salmon project commences. Chetwode-Talbot’s boyfriend is shipped off to Afghanistan by the military. When he’s listed as missing in action, she turns to Jones for comfort. Eventually the two are faced not only with the difficulties inherent in introducing a species of fish to an inhospitable climate, but with their burgeoning feelings for each other.

“Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” is a lightweight romance, with a dash of geo-political commentary thrown in. There are obvious allegories to be made between the introduction of a non-native species of fish and the longstanding cultural and political tampering of the Western World in the region. In fact, the movie has some outright commentary on it, it’s not entirely subtext.

It certainly isn’t heavy-handed, however, in fact there’s not a lot of heavy lifting to be had here at all. Blunt and McGregor are charming leads, but the film doesn’t ask either of them to go too far out of their comfort zones. This is a small-scale “charmer” with romantic undertones that’s not going to ask too much of the audience or its cast. Instead, it tells a hopeful tale about fish, possibilities, and global relations, and winds up being a decent, if not very substantive watch.


32 thoughts on “Now Showing on Cable: “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen”

  1. I liked it. It was sweet, and charming, as you said, and nice light entertainment. I’d give it a slightly higher grade (especially considering your “B-” for Iron Man 3)

    • Well, that didnt take long. LOL 🙄 I just want to be on the record as saying I knew it was wide open.

      I think a B is right, here, there wasn’t enough to it to warrant a +, in my opinion. I liked it, but… it wasn’t anything that got me too enthused.

  2. I enjoyed this one. It’s not a standout movie and doesn’t rank among my list of top favorites, but it’s a nice, charming film. And Ewan McGregor is one of my favorite actors, so I had to check this one out. 🙂

  3. Good Review however I didn’t like it. A great cast is wasted on a silly drama, I could hardly finish it. Glad you enjoyed it though. 🙂

    • Thanks… I can see where you’re coming from, Erik. I thought it was entertaining enough, but it wasn’t anything fantastic or anything. I wouldn’t say the cast was wasted, though, it was a decent enough little flick, in my opinion…

    • Yeah, it’s not tooooo syrupy, but I know what you’re saying and why you might shy away. Its not as bad in that regard as the trailers made it look. Its actually pretty low key.

  4. I actually like this one, it managed to offer something more than the usual rom-com. Perhaps it’s more of a dramedy. I kind of have a slight crush on the Sheik 😉

    • It’s definitely more on the dramatic side than the comedic, although its certainly nothing “heavy” or anything.

      The Sheikh was a pretty confident guy, LOL! I guess I would be too if I owned enough money to build a dam and fly in salmon so that I could fish in my back yard! 😀

      • No, not heavy but also not as flippant or silly like most rom-coms. The Sheikh has such a swagger doesn’t he, but like you said, he’s VERY charismatic. I didn’t pay any attention to the other guys once he’s on screen LOL.

    • Yeah, I mean, it’s not the greatest romance ever or anything, but with Blunt and McGregor selling it, it worked well enough. Sounds like you and I are about on the same page with it!

  5. Never have got round to seeing this one. The title turns me off. It sounds incredibly twee. If Ewan injects smack and dives down a shitty toilet to rescue Blunt from another dimension, I might give it a watch.

  6. I included this film recently in a blog I wrote regarding Favorite Scottish actors. I liked the film’s original premise. Ya just don’t see Scottish and Yemen actors intermingling much. I loved that the Shiek was a wise man….

    • Shiek had his philosophy going on, thats for sure. I suppose with that much cash he’s got time to sit around and philosophize LOL

      It was kind of a unique concept. I actually wish they had spent a little more time around the difficulties of the project, it was original at least! 😀

  7. There’s a lot to like about it, Namely Emily Blunt. You might say I like her so much I could watch her just talking to fish! I also liked Scott-Thomas. What a mouth on her! She was as bad as Malcolm Tucker “In The Loop”.
    SPOILER. And of course the Muslim natives They’re all trying to help with this fishery blow the dawn thing up! Lighthearted but still political.

    • “She was as bad as Malcolm Tucker “In The Loop”.” Well, LOL, I dont think anyone is THAT bad 😯 Holy Cow that guy shocked ME!

      Yeah, there definitely was a tinge of politics to it. Not much though, but still a little hard to miss the message about meddling in the world. LOL

  8. Small scale charmer indeed. Perfect description. I enjoyed this way more than I expected and had any right to. Plus, I doubt Emily Blunt can do no wrong.

    • LOL!! 😀 Well, that supports a lot of my contentions, right there.

      I do recall they had a decent trailer for this one though. I wouldnt have minded seeing it in theatres myself.

      • I never saw the trailer, but I’ve heard from a few people that the plot can be boiled down to the trailer (which I do believe).

        I keep seeing spontaneous posts for it. Just leave it to disintegrate on the back burner, will ya? lol

  9. There’s not much to it substantively as FMR mentions, but everything works and MacGregor and Blunt work well in it playing off each other. Definitely falls in the “charming” category.
    Good post. 😉

  10. While the two leads shared great chemistry, and I enjoyed many of the film’s funny and reflective moments, some aspects of the writing/plot direction meant it didn’t quite reach the magic of the premise. Like you, I also thought the trailer was decent, but I think they packed most of the good bits in there! 🙂 The film is based on a book but I’m not sure to what extent these media overlap.

    • Yeah, I didn’t read the book, either. So
      I can’t comment on that either.

      You’re right, it didn’t quite reach the promise of the premise. There were some redeeming virtues, I liked it well enough, but I thought based on the trailer it might have wound up better. 😦

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