Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

(UK, 2011)

For some reason the British refer to what the rest of the world knows as Yemen as “The Yemen.” They do that with “The Lebanon,” too, and I think maybe a country in Africa, whose name doesn’t come to mind right now and which might not even exist. If anyone out there knows why they do this, I’d like to hear about it. It’s a mystery to me, like the superfluous U in labour, harbour, honour, etc.

This is an amusing trifle about a crazy sheikh (and do we really need that second H?) from … sigh … The Yemen who has a crazy idea to build a dam in his desert country and create a river and stock it with British salmon. There are so many problems with the idea that Ewan McGregor, a worker in the Bureau of Fisheries (or something like that) can’t even begin to enumerate them. But a scheming public relations wonk from the PM’s office (Kristin Scott Thomas, who has the juiciest part in the picture and eats it up) latches onto scheme as a way to get some good publicity out of that benighted region.

The sheikh turns out to be not so crazy after all, but a true visionary, and Ewan and Emily Blunt, from the company that will be building the project, warm to him quickly. Before you know it they are all out there in the freakin’ sand, dropping farmed fish into the water to see if they’ll swim upstream, even though they’ve never seen a stream …

It’s all in fun, and I had a great time until that last 20 minutes or so, when the romance (of course there’s a romance, you fool, even though he’s married and she’s engaged to a dead man in Afghanistan) sort of bogged things down, and it all wrapped up too easily. But it wasn’t enough to spoil it, and all in all, it was a pleasant night at the movies.