“We are all haunted houses.”
SPOILER ALERT! THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS.
This film, a story of an attempt to populate the Yemen river with Scottish salmon, could have been rather sweet; a gently funny, hopeful tale which at the least would have been better than the threatened episode of Midsomer Murders.
Instead it was deeply, deeply irritating.
Alfred Jones, played endearingly if somewhat unconvincingly by Ewan MacGregor, is a government scientist working for the Fisheries Department or some such. He’s asked, as a sort of PR stunt, to help a Yemen sheikh to stock a bit of river in the desert with ten thousand salmon. Obviously, this is absurd. But he gradually and unwillingly gets drawn into the project, and in the process becomes friends with the pretty and obliging Harriet Chetwode-Talbot and oh gods you can see where this is going can’t you.
I really, really hoped I was wrong. But I wasn’t.
Now, I have no problem, in principle, with the whole Give Geeks A Chance trope; in fact, I’m a sucker for it. But I do have a problem with it when one of them is married (albeit unhappily) and the other – get this – has a soldier boyfriend who may or may not be dead somewhere.
How is a romance even on the cards?
It gets worse when Soldier Boyfriend rocks up in Yemen, thanks to another PR stunt:
SB: “Hey! I’m not dead after all! You’re awesome.”
Harriet: “Sorry, I moved on while you were dead”.
This is not OK.
I also feel that the treatment of Yemen and its people is at best superficial and at worst faintly sterotypical; any opportunity for an actual conversation about cultural difference is subverted, of course, to the romantic plotline. And what about the fact that the sheikh’s dam is depriving towns downriver of valuable water? What about giving the local terrorists a deeper motivation than “We hate all the Westerners”? What about the effect on the river’s natural wildlife of ten thousand non-native salmon? What about actually thinking about something?
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is not only irritating, it’s also thoughtless and predictable, with no consideration of the social and environmental consequences of its plotline, and, in fact, no meaningful discussion of anything, including its moronically unoriginal love story.
In case you hadn’t noticed, I am annoyed.