Pin It
Favorite

Swimming Upstream 

Despite being propelled by interesting ideas, Ewan McGregor's latest drowns in its own lack of focus.

click to enlarge \"I\'m sorry, are you talking about coho or Al Qaeda?\"
  • \"I\'m sorry, are you talking about coho or Al Qaeda?\"

There’s a recurring line throughout director Lasse Hallström’s adaptation of Paul Torday’s 2007 novel, regarding what’s possible “in theory.” It relates primarily to the fanciful premise — the desire of a billionaire Yemeni sheikh (Amr Waked) with a yen for fly-fishing to create a functional habitat for North Atlantic salmon in his country — but it could just as easily apply to the aspirations of the film itself.

In theory, there’s potential in the story of the British fisheries civil servant Dr. Alfred Jones (Ewan McGregor) — whose marriage to a workaholic banker (Rachel Stirling) has grown as tedious as his job — assigned to assist the sheikh with a plan Dr. Jones considers absurd. It might be possible to create a connection between Dr. Jones and the sheikh’s financial manager, Harriet (Emily Blunt), despite Harriet’s still-fresh relationship with a missing-in-action British soldier (Tom Mison). And, theoretically, it might be possible to mix all that into a cocktail of pragmatic international politics, as the Prime Minister’s no-nonsense press liaison (Kristin Scott Thomas) tries to wrangle the sheikh’s project into some much-needed positive public relations for the Brits in the Middle East, even as the sheikh’s own people attempt to stop the project out of fear that he’s altering both the landscape and their way of life.

Despite a frequently clever script by Simon Beaufoy (The Full Monty), though, and one of Thomas’ snappiest performances in years, Hallstöm — a director who, in recent years, has tended towards filing down the rough edges of every project he touches — can’t quite connect all those disparate elements.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen attempts to fuse tentative romance with snappy political satire, and combine a meditation on mysticism with a plot involving terrorism. The story itself may be about the collision between cynicism and faith, but jarring tonal shifts and lack of focus rarely work — even in theory.

SALMON FISHING IN YEMEN
Rated PG-13
Directed by Lasse Hallström
Starring Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Amr Waked

Tags: ,

  • Pin It

Speaking of Film

Latest in Film

  • Swing and a Miss
  • Swing and a Miss

    Hands of Stone can't carve out a distinctive space among boxing biopics
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Texas Heat
  • Texas Heat

    Hell or High Water is the crime drama you've been waiting all summer for
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Gun Show
  • Gun Show

    Jonah Hill and Miles Teller are armed and dangerous in the true story War Dogs
    • Aug 18, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun

All of today's events | Staff Picks

or

More by Scott Renshaw

  • Swing and a Miss
  • Swing and a Miss

    Hands of Stone can't carve out a distinctive space among boxing biopics
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Villain the Blanks
  • Villain the Blanks

    DC tries too hard to play movie universe catch-up with Suicide Squad
    • Aug 4, 2016
  • A Load of Scrat
  • A Load of Scrat

    Ice Age: Collision Course continues a franchise that keeps going only because it can
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Still Celebrating

    Boy George and Culture Club paved the way for genre- and gender-bending rock stars
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Where Are the Women?
  • Where Are the Women?

    A critic's year-long deep dive into the way movies portray half of humanity
    • May 12, 2016
  • Behind the Music
  • Behind the Music

    The Grammy Awards are about much more than what you see on TV
    • Feb 11, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation