Feel- good fish tale

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Movies - VICKY ROACH

SALMON FISH­ING IN THE YE­MEN ( M)

Di­rec­tor: Lasse Hall­strom ( Cho­co­lat ) Stars: Ewan Mc­gre­gor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas and Amr Waked

Salmon with slice of Ye­men

A BRI­TISH rom­com cel­e­brat­ing the soli­tary art of fly- fish­ing set against the arid back­drop of a war- torn Mid­dle East?

As far as pre­pos­ter­ous premises go, it’s right up there with an Os­car- win­ning un­der­dog story about a games show win­ner from the Mum­bai slums.

So it doesn’t come as a com­plete sur­prise to dis­cover that Salmon Fish­ing In The Ye­men is writ­ten by the same man who penned the screen­play for Slum­dog Mil­lion­aire.

Si­mon Beau­foy, who also re­worked the grim plight of Sh­effield steel work­ers into a life- af­firm­ing com­edy in The Full Monty, gen­tly chal­lenges our re­gional prej­u­dices in this nicely- judged adap­ta­tion of Paul Tor­day’s novel of the same name.

When fish­eries ex­pert Dr Al­fred Jones ( Ewan Mc­gre­gor) con­fuses the Repub­lic of Ye­men with Iraq in his dis­mis­sive in­tro­duc­tion to fi­nan­cial con­sul­tant Har­riet Chet­wode- Tal­bot ( Emily Blunt), she qui­etly points out that the oil- rich coun­try is lo­cated at the south­west­ern tip of the Ara­bian penin­sula, some dis­tance from its im­plod­ing neigh­bour.

In a part of the world more com­monly as­so­ci­ated with re­li­gious fa­nati­cism, Chet­wode- Tal­bot’s wealthy client, Sheik Muhammed ( Syr­i­ana’s Amr Waked), is a pro­gres­sive lib­eral.

Hav­ing spent a large part of his for­tune on a dam to ir­ri­gate the dry heart of his coun­try, the avid fly fish­er­man dreams of pop­u­lat­ing the wa­ter­ways with At­lantic salmon.

De­spite the seem­ing folly of this en­ter­prise, it’s quickly seized upon by Pa­tri­cia Max­ell ( Kristin Scott Thomas), a hard- nosed press sec­re­tary to the Bri­tish PM, who is des­per­ate for a good news story in the re­gion.

And that’s where Mc­gre­gor’s dour, Pres­by­te­rian salmon- fish­ing en­thu­si­ast comes in. He’s en­trusted with bring­ing the hare­brained scheme to fruition.

Ini­tially scorn­ful of the Sheik’s vi­sion, the tweed- suited public ser­vant is slowly won over by his ob­vi­ous in­tegrity and Chet­wode- Tal­bot’s quick- wit­ted charm.

The un­likely na­ture of this blos­som­ing odd- cou­ple ro­mance is fur­ther complicated by her sol­dier boyfriend, miss­ing in ac­tion in Afghanistan.

Sharp, funny di­a­logue de­liv­ered with as­sur­ance by Blunt, Mc­gre­gor and Scott Thomas al­lows Salmon Fish­ing In The Ye­men to swim up­stream, against the Judd Apa­tow- led US tide of bloke- driven ro­mances. In so do­ing, it re­plen­ishes a thirsty genre.

This is di­rec­tor Lasse Hall­strom’s best film since Casanova ( 2005), star­ring Heath Ledger.

Now show­ing State and Vil­lage cine­mas

FLY­ING HIGH: Amr Waked and Ewan Mc­gre­gor are well cast in the gen­tle Salmon Fish­ing In The Ye­men.

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