“Go catch a salmon in the desert!” sounds ill-meant because one would think it is quite impossible to do. Similar to sarcastically telling someone to “Go take a long walk on a short pier.”
The movie adaptation of the book “Salmon fishing in the Yemen” can also be a bit rude (it is satirical after all), but it’s really all about believing in the outrageous, impossible, and harebrained. And oh, why not, love blooming in arid soil (aka the workplace).
The unlikely premise: the British government, best (?) represented here by ball-busting press secretary to the Prime Minister Patricia Maxwell (saucily played by Kristin Scott Thomas), suddenly takes an interest in a Yemeni sheik’s project of bringing salmon-fishing (and ergo, transporting 10,000 live salmon, plus a few pint-sized Chinese engineers) to the desert. Mrs. Maxwell is clutching at straws to generate good press in the midst of British involvement in the war in Afghanistan.
British fisheries expert and lackluster husband Dr. Alfred Jones (Ewan McGregor), who had earlier declined — in the most acerbic terms — any involvement in said project, is then strong-armed to devote his entire time to making it work. This places him away from his estranged wife, and in constant contact with the oh-so-efficient consultant/assistant Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Emily Blunt). Incidentally, the latter is nursing a broken heart from an aborted romance with her MIA soldier-boyfriend.
Somehow, the recalcitrant Dr. Jones is reeled in by threats (from his manipulative bosses), charming persuasion (from the pretty consultant), and philosophy (from the sheik himself) until he is hooked on the possibility of actually pulling off what he had initially dismissed as an expensive folly. Meanwhile, Ms. C-T is by turns amused, exasperated, endeared to and finally a little in love with her colleague.
The budding romance goes swimmingly… up until Ms. C-T’s soldier-boyfriend comes back from the dead.
“Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” is a bit hokey, but nevertheless charming, and full of zinging puns. One cannot adequately describe the comic impact of a chatbox between bureaucrats. Watch it just for laughs.
And speaking of laughs, here’s my attempt at a self-portrait:
I was told by L that I needed more graphics to spruce up this blog 😛 I think the cat-hat is rather fetching.