Salmon Fishing in the Yemen'Ewan McGregor (Fred Jones) & Amr Waked (Sheikh)
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen'Ewan McGregor (Fred Jones) & Amr Waked (Sheikh)


There is a fishy fundraiser in Hawick next Wednesday that was dumped ignominiously into the Lost & Found Wanting when it came out in 2011.

But my advice to those who find the title a turnoff: sell the family silver, raise the funds and get down there! You won’t be disappointed.

The plot in a nut: Arab prince has a passion for fishing. He wants to bring salmon to the Yemen. Civil servants close to the British government are told to set it up. Everyone thinks the idea barmy.

Enter a PR girlie (Emily Blunt) who is handling the prince’s account in the UK. She contacts Dr Jones (Ewan McGregor), a so-called Scottish expert, who tells her to forget the whole idea because North Atlantic salmon would not appreciate Middle Eastern desert conditions.

Things change when the prince provides $50million to kick start the enterprise. The PM’s press secretary (Kristin Scott Thomas in cracking form) goes into hyper drive. Jones and the prince get on like a tent on fire.

“It would be an act of God,” his royalness intones. “I’m more of a fact and figures man myself,” the Scot replies.

Jones and Miss Chetwode-Talbot get on even better. He’s married to an executive high flyer who finds household chores repugnant and conjugal rights unnecessarily messy, while C-T’s dishy boyfriend has been reported missing in action.

What takes the film out of the running mill of flim-flam feelgoodness are the performances, witty script and Hallstrom’s steady hand and eye.

For those who have written McGregor off as a charm school B-lister, watch him work with such subtlety and restraint on the character of an undervalued lapsed Presbyterian (“I don’t know anyone who goes to church anymore. On Sundays we go to Tescos”). Blunt is equally natural and impressive.

The film ribs civil servants mercilessly and proves that rom-coms don’t have to be brain dead.