Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt quirky comedy romance is insubstantial muddle
This adaptation of Paul Torday’s 2007 novel is another to add to the list of ‘books that didn’t work as films’. The story of a nerdish Scottish fisheries expert (Ewan McGregor) and a sophisticated legal aide (Emily Blunt) selected by a fishing-obsessed Arab sheik (Amr Waked) to help realise the seemingly impossible vision of the title was undoubtedly more effective on the page; as a film it is played primarily as a quirky comedy romance, but a grating and clichéd one. Writer Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) fails to focus the story’s wild shifts of tone – there are elements of political satire, devastating drama and even a brief terrorism subplot – and the result is an insubstantial muddle.
Director Lasse Hallström (Chocolat, The Cider House Rules) favours simple broad emotions over thematic complexity, but this story’s bigger themes of politics and faith require a subtle touch that is entirely absent. Kristin Scott Thomas also appears as a Malcolm Tucker-like spin doctor, but amongst this likeable cast it is only Waked’s considered performance that makes a particular lasting impression.
General release from Fri 20 April.