First Hit: This was a very delightful film to watch.
Sheikh Mohammed (played by Amr Waked) believes that by introducing Salmon fishing in Yemen, his countrymen will learn patience while creating a new food resource, (with the fish and using the water to make the desert green) and an appreciation for life itself.
Harriet (played by Emily Blunt) works for a British investment company that manages much of the Sheikh’s money. There is a skirmish in the Middle East and the British and 10 Downing Street want to deflect the negative press by creating a feel good story.
They pick this idea of introducing Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. The guy charged with this from the fisheries department is Dr. Alfred Jones (played by Ewan McGregor). He scoffs at this idea and turns them down.
But the Prime Minister guided by his press secretary Patricia Maxwell (played by Kristin Scott Thomas) orders Alfred to take the project on. At home Dr. Jones’ married life is very sterile and the defining moment is a scene where he and his wife make love. Harriet is involved in the project because she is the lead for the Sheikh.
One of the themes in this film is “faith”. The Sheikh poses the discussion of faith at various moments and he does this effectively. The humor between the uptight Dr. Jones and the open Harriet was perfect.
Although this film is formulaic, it executes in its own unique way.
Waked was beautiful in his execution of the Sheikh’s role. The “1,000 apologies” statement when he has an argument with a fellow countryman was perfect as was his fishing in his robes. Blunt is amazing in her performance. She can be vulnerable, strong, and beautiful all in the same moment. Here she does this perfectly and her voice – simply intoxicating. McGregor was sublime as an uptight intellectual who prefers talking with fish versus humans. As he unfolds his life in-front of the Sheikh and Harriet, he unfolds his life in front of himself. McGregor was extremely effective doing this. Scott Thomas was funny and in full bloom in this characterization of an overzealous PR person for a head of government. Simon Beaufoy and Paul Torday wrote a fun and poignant script. Lasse Hallstrom directed this film with a wonderfully perceptive hand while paying attention to the subtle details that make films good.
Overall: This is a joyous and enjoyable film – worth watching.