From the beloved director of Chocolat and the Oscar®-winning screenwriter of Slumdog Millionaire (2008) comes the inspirational comedy Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. A visionary Sheikh (Amr Waked) believes his passion for the peaceful pastime of salmon fishing can enrich the lives of his people, and he dreams of bringing the sport to the not so fish-friendly desert. Willing to spare no expense, he instructs his representative (Emily Blunt) to turn the dream into reality, an extraordinary feat that will require the involvement of Britain's leading fisheries expert (Ewan McGregor), who happens to think the project both absurd and unachievable. That is, until the Prime Minister's overzealous press secretary (Kristin Scott Thomas) latches onto it as a 'good will' story. Now, this unlikely team will put it all on the line and embark on an upstream journey of faith and fish to prove the impossible, possible.
Lasse Hallström's breezy adaptation of Paul Torday's satiric novel, Salmon Fishing in Yemen, features dedicated anglers and arid Middle Eastern vistas, but it's a screwball comedy at heart (with Morocco standing in for Yemen). Bridget (Kristin Scott Thomas), the prime minister's steamroller of a press secretary, sets the story in motion when she reads about a fabulously wealthy sheik (Amr Waked) who longs to bring fly-fishing to the desert. She believes that cooperation with his country would be good for Britain's image, while the sheik has more altruistic goals in mind. This leads her to mild-mannered fisheries expert Alfred Jones (Ewan McGregor, effectively cast against type), who feels certain the endeavor is pure fantasy until hyper-efficient Harriet (Emily Blunt), the sheik's land agent, brings him some surprising data about the region. Though Fred's marriage has been running on fumes, Harriet has been seeing a soldier stationed in Afghanistan. Initially, the two are all business as they devise a plan involving a system of dams, but their feelings for each other gradually rise to the surface. Just as their impossible dream appears to be coming true, a series of unexpected developments threatens to scupper the entire enterprise. The road to a mostly happy ending isn't without its potholes, but Hallström (Chocolat) and Oscar-winning screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (The Full Monty, Slumdog Millionaire) make it a trip worth taking. If their scenario prizes romance over politics, McGregor and Blunt mount a charm offensive too persuasive to resist. --Kathleen C. Fennessy