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

  • Mind the Gap
  • Mind the Gap

    20th Century Women offers a compassionate take on generational shifts
    • Jan 18, 2017
  • Golden Arches
  • Golden Arches

    Michael Keaton gives us the story of McDonald's in the Founder
    • Jan 18, 2017
  • Print (and Reprint) the Legend
  • Print (and Reprint) the Legend

    Jackie keeps repeating its intriguing ideas about turning people into icons
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun
Young Jesus, Goon

Young Jesus, Goon @ The Observatory

Wed., Jan. 25, 8 p.m.-12 a.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

or

More by Scott Renshaw

  • Mind the Gap
  • Mind the Gap

    20th Century Women offers a compassionate take on generational shifts
    • Jan 18, 2017
  • Print (and Reprint) the Legend
  • Print (and Reprint) the Legend

    Jackie keeps repeating its intriguing ideas about turning people into icons
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • List We Forget...
  • List We Forget...

    Celebrating the best in film for 2016
    • Dec 29, 2016
  • More »

Most Commented On

Top Tags in
Music & Film

Film


Review


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
  • Spy vs. Spy
  • Spy vs. Spy

    The Man from U.N.C.L.E. carves out a unique space in a crowded espionage marketplace
    • Aug 12, 2015

© 2017 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation