Ewan McGregor is Dr. Fred Jones, a government expert on fishing, who is asked by Harriet, a financial representative to a sheikh (Emily Blunt) to help bring a salmon stream to the Yemen where the sheikh has built a dam and has made a small river through a once dry rocky canyon. Dr. Jones turns down the request, saying it will never work, but after a mosque in Afghanistan is mistakenly shelled by British forces, Jones is forced to take on the project by the Prime Minister’s press secretary (Kristin Scott Thomas) as a sign of cooperation and friendliness between the Brits and the Middle East.
So Dr. Jones grudgingly takes on the project, all the while being cajoled by the sheikh who tells him that trying to accomplish the project requires the same faith that is needed to pursuing their shared sport of salmon fishing. But early on into the project, the financial rep withdraws when her boyfriend–a member of the military recently deployed to Afghanistan–is reported as MIA.
But the project continues, with Jones and Harriet growing closer even as Jones’ marriage to his wife grows even more distant, the sheikh under attack by radicals who see his project as going against God’s wishes for the area, and the difficulty in finding 10,000 salmon to use to stock the sluices.
Eventually, the salmon are found, the Harriet rejoins the project, Jones realizing his marriage is over and that he’s falling in love with the rep, and the meddling by the PM’s office, who merely want to cash in on the publicity. After they release the fish and find that farm-raised salmon will run upstream in the river, the radicals sabotage the dam and wash away much of the project, leaving the hopes of Jones, Harriet and the rep dashed, but only to be manipulated by the press secretary because she has brought Harriet’s missing boyfriend to the site as a surprise. In the end, predictably, Jones and Harriet decide to stay together in the Yemen to help the Sheikh rebuild the project using the few salmon who did not die in the sabotage.
Is this a great movie? No. Is it very good and well done? Yes. It’s simple, short, easy to watch and follow, and the acting seems pretty easy: McGregor’s character, in particular, is interesting–he’s got that professional detachment you’d expect from a government scientist, but you also are led to believe he has at least some symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome.
It’s a light drama, with a good deal of tongue-in-cheek ribbing pointed especially at the Prime Minister and the government for being on the lookout for easy ways to look good in the eyes of the people. Overall, it’s a good movie–not great, as I said, probably not worth seeing a second time, but very good for what it is: Four out of Five stars.
See you tomorrow.