Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Movies are strong purveyors of the “nothing is impossible” philosophy, and that seems to be the theme best summed up in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. This fish tale begins when Harriet (Emily Blunt), a representative of a wealthy sheikh, asks Britain’s top fisheries expert to devise a way to start a salmon habitat in a Yemeni river. Dr. Alfred Jones (Ewan McGregor) protests the idea with every once of his character. But what he doesn’t count on is his government’s desire to secure a “good news” story out of the Middle East, no matter what the cost. Up against the Prime Minister’s indomitable press secretary (Kristin Scott Thomas) and his pink-slip happy boss (Conleth Hill) the civil servant craters to the pressure and accepts the outrageous budget.
Dr. Jones’ initial certainty that Sheikh Muhammed (Amr Waked) is out of his mind begins to soften after the ichthyologist meets the visionary man on a fishing excursion. While casting their lines together Sheikh Muhammed offers explanations for his ambitious plans, including helping to provide a better life for his people, proving the impossible possible and the mere fact that he likes to fish. He also believes that with faith, the effort can be a success—although he admits to worrying about acting as a God with his desire to transplant the species.
And then there’s Harriet. Her determined personality is a perfect foil to floundering Dr. Jones, who will undoubtedly bite on her enticing hook even though their introduction started off on the wrong foot. The problem is the sweet doctor is already married. However, the woman (Rachel Stirling) is conveniently inattentive, as demonstrated in one of two short but somewhat detailed intimate scenes. While Dr. Jones’ wife pursues employment that takes her away weeks at a time (and Harriet’s three-week boyfriend is missing in action in Afghanistan) there is no question this close working relationship will soon spawn a romance.
Aside from the sexual moments (and some descriptive sounds) content issues in this British film include other brief sexual discussion and crude terms. Infrequent but strong profanities are used and a mother yells a sexual expletive at one of her children. As well, there is an attempted assassination and characters that sabotage a dam.
These issues may prevent family viewers from enjoying this otherwise thought provoking movie that portrays faith as a positive virtue. Yet for all the hope expressed by raising salmon in a desert river, it’s sad the “nothing is impossible” philosophy wasn’t also applied to Dr. Jones’ drowning marriage.