Bill I’s Rating – 3.5 out of 5
Some reviewers called this a terrible title, but at least it’s accurate. What would be an alternative: “When Ascerbic Civil Servant met Hot Lawyer”? or “Faith and Hope beat Science”? or most likely “Swimming Upstream”. So yes, this is a story of a rich sheikh who’s so into fly fishing in his Scotland estate that he decides to create a dam in the Yemen desert, which would create a stream of water that he can dump 10,000 salmon in, hope they swim upstream and his countrymen can discover the joy of fishing. Since money brings power, he has an upscale London law firm (with the lovely Emily Blunt as his personal advisor) make it happen, including obtaining the services of aforementioned ascerbic civil servant scientist (perfect Ewan McGregor), and aided by ultra hyper-political HR flack for the Prime Minister (wonderful Kristin Scott Thomas, watch her try to manage/bully/mother her kids). Side stories are Ewan’s cold, controlling wife, and Emily’s soldier boyfriend sent to Afghanistan. The Shiekh is like a handsome Yoda, spouting wisdom through a sly grin, while truly experiencing the joys of casting his fly and patiently waiting for a bite. Don’t worry, the viewers actually never have to wait longer than about 20 seconds for these guys to catch a big one. I wonder how much film ended up on the digital cutting room floor waiting for the right fish to come along. These salmon personify the true meaning of an extra, I guess. The whole project is a rich man’s fantasy and obsession, that in retrospect reminds me of Donald Trump for some reason, with his apprentices kowtowing to his every wish. Overall, a very pleasant, enjoyable viewing experience. I recommend it, if you want an alternative to American Reunion this weekend!
Bill C’s Review – 3 out of 5
My wife was disappointed because she was expecting a documentary about salmon fishing. But I enjoyed this romantic comedy from director Lasse Hallstrom. Emily Blunt recruits Ewan McGregor, playing the pre-eminent fishing expert in Britain, to help realize a Yemen Sheik’s dream to bring salmon fishing to the Yemen. This endeavor requires faith and at first McGregor is against the idea. But he goes along after meeting the charismatic sheik and beginning to enjoy Blunt’s company. Over time his faith grows in the project.
The dialogue and humor are good and for the most part this is an enjoyable, easygoing comedy. As with any good movie about salmon (A River Runs Through It), the metaphors run hot and heavy about having to go against the stream. At times the movie gets a little too serious and Hallstrom could have been a little more subtle in spots.
The performance were ok. I especially liked Kristin Scott Thomas and Amir Waked in supporting roles. While not great, overall it was an enjoyable evening at the movies (and my wife liked it too after getting over the disappointment that I hadn’t taken her to a documentary).