Movie Review: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

I saw the preview for this movie five years ago, and I was intrigued. Some movie trailers spark interest while others stir my heart. This one fell into the latter category. Being a small British film, however, it never played on the big screen in Joplin, and I forgot about the movie. 

Until today. 

Checking possibilities for a movie night, this quirky film popped up as available on Amazon Prime. That stirring around my heart reminded me that I was drawn toward this movie previously. I knew I had found tonight’s selection…or more accurately, it had found me again. 

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen stars Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas, Amr Waked and Tom Mison. Directed by Lasse Hallström, this comedy adventure is based on the novel by the same name, written by Paul Torday. The film is rated PG-13, for brief language and sexuality, and has a run time of 1 hour and 47 minutes. 

Dr Alfred Jones (McGregor), a Scottish fisheries expert, is presented with the most unlikely of projects, the introduction of salmon into Yemen rivers, for fishing. Wealthy sheikh Muhammed bin Zaidi bani Tihama (Waked), the royal head of Yemen, desires to bring salmon to his country, and he has the resources to make it happen. 

The sheikh’s representative, Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Blunt), approaches Dr Jones as an associate of the British investment company Fitzharris & Price. In spite of the impossibility of success, Fred reluctantly agrees to head up the project after meeting the sheikh and fishing with him in Scotland. The sheikh is a man of faith. He believes. 

With his salary doubled, and almost unlimited resources at his disposal, Fred brings together a team of specialists to build a dam, check the water in Yemen, and find a way to fly in 10,000 British salmon. As each goal is met, with Harriet’s help, he begins to believe this outlandish idea just might work. Regardless of the outcome, Fred feels more engaged and more alive, than he has felt in years. 

Harriet considers the project, and Fred, her saviors. Her boyfriend of three weeks, Captain Robert Mayers (Mison) is missing in action somewhere in the Middle East. As the project nears completion, tension rises in Yemen, as some feel the sheikh is westernizing their country. And tough, no nonsense Patricia Maxwell (Thomas), communications director for the Prime Minister, shows up with a surprise that she hopes to manipulate into positive press stories. 

Will faith and ingenuity be enough to bring salmon fishing to the Yemen? 

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. I’m a big fan of Scottish actor Ewan McGregor, and I loved listening to him speak with his native accent. And I deeply appreciated the scenes with beautiful Scotland as the backdrop. Amr Waked captured my interest as the sheikh, with his out of the box ideas and the belief to carry them out. Emily Blunt and Kristin Scott Thomas gave notable performances as well. 

In spite of the movie title, and the project that was the focus of the characters, this was not just a movie about fishing for salmon. This was a movie about stepping out of comfort zones, dreaming big, and having faith no matter what other people thought. And it was about relationships…romantic ones and friendships and that most important kinship with self. 

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen was about beliefs, and bringing cultures together by connecting people first. For the avid fly fisherman, there was enough fishing to create the desire to grab a pole and wade out into a river. I don’t want to cast a fly out into still waters, but watching this movie called to me nonetheless, and brought joy and a sense of seeing the bigger picture in life. I’m grateful this film found me today.