‘I could have sworn the river was around here somewhere….’

A funny, charming and stirring comedy from the book by Paul Torday. Directed by Lasse Hallström, this movie features some great performances and incredible cinematography.

Investment consultant Harriet Chetwoode-Talbot (Emily Blunt)  has a problem. Her client, a wealthy Sheikh (Amr Waked, Syriana) is a keen salmon fisherman and wants to introduce the sport to the Yemen river so that his peers abroad can enjoy his hobby. Although well meaning and ‘visionary’, the Sheikh’s plan is immediately shot down by fisheries expert Alfred Jones (Ewan MacGregor) who is hired by Talbot to advise on the project and insists that it is absurd. But what the Sheikh lacks in sense he makes up for with money- and they hatch a massive development plan to make the conditions of the Yemen safe for salmon and thus advance the project. Will Alfred come around and take a chance, or will he return to ‘dull, pedestrian life’ and bossy wife (Rachael Stirling, Young Victoria)? And how will Harriet continue with her work when her soldier boyfriend goes MIA? The plot is further complicated by press assistant to the PM Patricia Maxwell (a very funny Kristen Scott Thomas) who is determined to move the project along in order to improve Anglo relations with the Middle East.

Salmon Fishing gives us approximately 107 minutes of thinly veiled metaphors- the salmon’s upstream struggle for example- but it’s difficult not to lap it all up and feel all the better for it. Sheikh Muhammed’s vision makes our two protagonists- and ourselves- wonder how often we go against the current, and how often we go with it. Patricia’s determination for good press coverage threatens to spoil the good intentions of the Sheikh’s project, and the private lives of Alfred and Harriet force them to become closer, under the knowing eye of the Sheikh, who himself has doubts in himself. It’s about making life better for yourself, even if it means taking risks.

Despite the sometimes overly well-meaning story, the performances are superb all round, including some great smaller roles such as Alfred’s boss, the despised Bernard Sugden (Conleth Hill). MacGregor and Blunt make a very attractive couple and Scott Thomas provides a lot of laughs. The scenery is also incredible- with some great atmospheric shots of the Yemen and in Scotland. Overall, a great feel-good film for all ages.

By Stephanie Broad