Santa Cruz Good Times

Sunday
Apr 20th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Fish Story

altGreat cast, funny script, in charming 'Salmon'

Getting to hear the always-watchable Ewan McGregor act in his own Scots accent (more or less) is only one of the many small charms in Salmon Fishing In the Yemen. A clear-headed,yet open-hearted romantic comedy-drama about impossible dreams and unlikely alliances, the film is directed by Lasse Hallström with his usual touch of warm fuzziness, spiced up here with a dash of political satire, and a frisson of cross-cultural utopianism. But the themes never intrude too deeply on the film's sneaky sense of fun.

Hallström is best known for his screen adaptations of modern literary classics like The Cider House Rules and Chocolat. Here, he's working with the somewhat lesser-known debut novel by Paul Torday, a longtime British businessman and part-time fisherman who has traveled in the Middle East. Working from an engaging script by Simon Beaufoy (The Full Monty; Slumdog Millionaire), Hallstrom crafts a gentle-spirited love story that evolves against a tart comic backdrop of media-spinning political opportunism.
The still center of all the furor is McGregor's Dr. Alfred Jones, a mild-mannered scientist and fish expert with the government fisheries department in London. A devoted angler, Fred is never happier than when he's designing a new fishing fly, or out talking to the koi in his backyard pond, trying not to notice as his brisk businesswoman wife, Mary (Rachael Stirling), dashes off on another of her out-of-town business trips.

Then a bright young thing named Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Emily Blunt) contacts Dr. Jones with a proposal. She represents a global financial concern managing the considerable fortune of a Yemeni sheikh who wants to sink a few of his millions into a project to build a dam, create a permanent river out of a dry wadi, and introduce cold-water Scottish salmon into the desert of Yemen. Harriet is searching for someone to head up the project, but Fred immediately dismisses it as "fundamentally unfeasible."

But Fred doesn't reckon on the ferocious tsunami of energy and willpower that is Patricia Maxwell (the terrific Kristin Scott Thomas), press liaison to the Prime Minister. Desperate for some good news out of the Middle East, Patricia gloms onto the salmon project as a potential PR bonanza of international goodwill, and orders Fred's boss to assign him to it. As derisive as he is, Fred finds Harriet patiently undaunted, whether he's doodling a graph showing exactly how the fish will die, or making a preposterous request for a meeting with the Chinese architects of the Three Gorges Dam. (She gets him one.) Soon, the reluctant Fred and efficient Harriet are in a helicopter flying to a remote castle in Scotland to meet the sheikh at one of his international residences.

But Fred starts to come around when he meets Sheikh Muhammed (Egyptian actor Amr Waked, in a deeply charismatic performance). Younger than expected, philosophical, and with a cosmopolitan world view, the sheikh is not only tuned in to the Zen of fly fishing, he recognizes Fred as the designer of his favorite fly. His is a visionary plan to bring not only sport fishing, but life-giving water and a greenbelt to his desert people. As the action moves from Britain to the Middle East, matters are complicated not only by the soldier boyfriend (an appealing Tom Mison) deployed to Afghanistan that Harriet has promised to wait for, but by the sheikh's rival factions in Yemen. But as the project evolves, both Fred and Harriet begin to reconsider the viability of impossible dreams.

As Fred, McGregor delivers an effective blend of shy diffidence with a streak of deadpan Scots orneriness. He and the winsome Blunt establish a nice rapport, although the most compelling, life-altering relationship in the movie may be the unexpected friendship between Fred and Waked's savvy, scene-stealing sheikh. Actually, the two men and Harriet form an irresistible alliance against all odds that keeps the story humming—shepherded along by the divine Scott Thomas, peppering the actioaltn with a full arsenal of cynical wisecracks.
Hallstrom's touch is light throughout, yet thoughtful in giving plenty of space to the story's bittersweet moments. Droll dialogue and a likeable cast keep everything swimming along.

SALMON FISHING
IN THE YEMEN


★★★ (out of four) Watch film trailer >>>

With Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Amr Waked. Directed by Lasse Hallstrom. Rated PG-13. 111 minutes.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Cardinal Grand Cross in the Sky

Following Holy Week (passion, death and burial of the Pisces World Teacher) and Easter Sunday (Resurrection Festival), from April 19 to the 23, the long-awaited and discussed Cardinal Cross of Change appears in the sky, composed of Cardinal signs Aries, Libra, Cancer, and Capricorn, with planets (13-14 degrees) Uranus (in Aries), Jupiter (in Cancer), Mars (in Libra) and Pluto (in Capricorn), an actual geometrical square or cross configuration. Cardinal signs mark the seasons of change, initiating new realities.

 

Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of April 17

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >

 

Growing Hope

Campos Seguros combats sexual assault in the Watsonville farmworker community Farm work was a way of life for Rocio Camargo, who grew up in Watsonville as the daughter of Mexican immigrants. Her parents met while working the fields 30 years ago, and her father went on to run Fuentes Berry Farms.
Sign up for Tomorrow's Good Times Today
Upcoming arts & events

Latest Comments

 

Foodie File: Red Apple Cafe

Breakfast takes center stage at Gracia Krakauer's Red Apple Cafe Before they moved to Aptos, Gracia and her husband Dan Krakauer would visit friends in Santa Cruz County and eat at the Red Apple Café all the time. Then they moved up here from Santa Monica five years ago, and bought the Aptos location (there’s a separate one in Watsonville) from the family who owned it for two decades.

 

How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management

 

Trout Gulch Vineyards

Cinsault 2012—la grande plage diurne The most popular wines on store shelves are those most generally known and available—Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which are all superb for sure. But when you come across a more unusual varietal, like Trout Gulch Vineyards’ Cinsault ($18), it opens up a whole new world.

 

Waddell Creek, Al Fresco

Route One Summer Farm Dinner You’ve been buying their insanely fresh produce for years now at farmers’ markets. Right? So now why not become more familiar with the gorgeous Waddell Creek farmlands of Route One Farms?