Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is a ridiculous idea. Don’t take my word for it. Every character in the film of the same name says so at least once in the film. Starring Ewan McGregor and Emily Blount, the film was directed by Lasse Halstrom. The presentation I saw was part of a cinema series at my favourite theatre, the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts.
Faith is at the centre of the film. The sheik who bankrolls the ridiculous idea is a man of Faith. His salmon expert is a man of science, who believes in facts and figures. The faith of the woman who puts the project together and introduces the sheik to the salmon expert lies somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Those of unbending, literal faith are seen in opposition to the sheik’s dream. Ye of too little faith is the character who is the press liaison for the Prime Minister of England.
The only subtlety in the film is the nuanced performances by McGregor and Amr Waked, who played the sheik. No dialogue was required when something truly significant needed to be said. Masterful, understated and truly captivating, I forgave the heavy-handed metaphor of salmon swimming upstream against the current. Although I winced when the director hit me over the head with an image of Dr. Alfred Jones (McGregor) negotiating a crowd of pedestrians moving in the opposite direction.
Whether allegory or fairy tale, the ending was designed to satisfy romantics, if not skeptics. Arm chair travelers will enjoy the aerial views of remote Scotland and the tent encampment in Yemen. Rent this one, especially if you are planning a Ewan McGregor movie marathon.