Salmon Fishing in the Yemen sounds promising, being based on Paul Torday’s prize winning book for comic literature and adapted by Simon Beaufoy, screenwriter of classics The Full Monty, 127 Hours and Slumdog Millionaire.

The plot sees fisheries expert, Dr Alfred Jones (Ewan McGregor), drafted in by PR girl Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Emily Blunt) to help with the unlikely project of bringing salmon to the Yemen for forward-thinking fishing fan, Sheikh Muhammed. Meanwhile, Harriet’s military boyfriend is missing in action, Jones’ marriage is breaking down, and there’s a plot to assassinate the Sheikh.

the kind of film you might watch on a Sunday afternoon with a cup of tea and a biscuit… a gem of a gentle film

Many of Salmon Fishing’s characters initially appear like caricatures. Jones is a much too old for his age fuddy-duddy, whilst Harriet is a romantic posh. Fortunately, Salmon Fishing’s characters grow a great deal as you watch. And, as the inevitable tragedy and romance sweep in, it’s difficult not to warm to Jones and Harriet. Salmon Fishing is certainly a feel good film. The downside is that Salmon Fishing’s characters seem so capable in their jobs and the pace is so relaxed that it’s difficult to feel any real jeopardy for the fishing project. And so, the film simply ticks gently by.

This film version of Salmon Fishing is also quite light on comedy. Ewan McGregor has a good share of witticisms to deliver early on, but unfortunately these tail off as the film gets going. The demanding and ruthless government Press Secretary, Patricia Maxwell (Kristin Scott Thomas), should also be high on comic value, but instead seems obvious and over the top. The supporting cast is not without its comic gems though, Conleth Hill is a shining star as the struggling and lecherous civil servant, Bernard Sugden.

On the whole, Salmon Fishing is the kind of film you might watch on a Sunday afternoon with a cup of tea and a biscuit – it’s harmless, soothing and good fun. In many ways, this is a gem of a gentle film that offers a bit of change from the more intense action and thriller releases this week. If you feel like a refreshingly relaxing movie with some gentle humour for good measure, then Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is for you.

VERDICT: ✪ ✪ ✪

For more information see Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’s official website

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