Prayer Focus
Click here to watch THE HOPE on-line!

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

MPAA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPAA) for some violence and sexual content, and brief language.

Reviewed by: Andrea McAteer

Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Romance Drama Comedy Adaptation
1 hr. 51 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
March 9, 2012 (limited—18 theaters)
March 30, 2012 (wide)
DVD: July 17, 2012
Copyright, Lionsgate, CBS Films click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Lionsgate, CBS Films Copyright, Lionsgate, CBS Films Copyright, Lionsgate, CBS Films Copyright, Lionsgate, CBS Films Copyright, Lionsgate, CBS Films Copyright, Lionsgate, CBS Films Copyright, Lionsgate, CBS Films Copyright, Lionsgate, CBS Films
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Lionsgate, CBS Films

optimism and hope


fish in the Bible


movie based on the 2006 novel of the same name by Paul Torday—‘a book about inspiration, about hope, about belief and about seeing beyond the conventional’

Couple in love. Photo copyrighted
TRUE LOVE—What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer
Sex, Love and Relationships
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Discover biblical answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more.

DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE—Under what conditions may Christians divorce and remarry? Answer

divorce in the Bible

What does it mean to be “the husband of one wife”? Answer

Featuring: Emily Blunt, Ewan McGregorDr. Alfred Jones
Kristin Scott ThomasPatricia Maxwell
Emily BluntHarriet
Amr Waked … Sheikh Muhammed
See all »
Director: Lasse Hallström—“Chocolat
Producer: BBC Films
Kudos Film and Television
See all »
Distributor: Lionsgate, CBS Films

“Make the improbable possible”

In “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen,” Harriet (Emily Blunt) represents a sheik who wishes to bring the sport of salmon fishing to the people of Yemen. Harriet contacts Dr. Alfred Jones (Ewan McGregor), who is a fisheries expert. He instantly dismisses the idea. Patricia Maxwell (Kristin Scott Thomas) is the press secretary for the British Prime Minister. After televised coverage of a military operation takes out a mosque, the press secretary seeks out a feel good story from the Middle East. She gets hold of the salmon fishing story and does her part to push the project along, and therefore Dr. Jones is given the option by his boss, take the job or be fired. The story continues with Alfred begrudgingly meeting Harriet to discuss how to bring about this major undertaking. Alfred does what he can to discourage the idea, but Harriet pleasantly meets every unlikely request he makes.

Alfred seems intelligent yet awkward in the film, whereas Harriet is kind and self assured. As their working relationship progresses, Alfred seems to come into his own and gains confidence. Harriet has a new beau, who has to leave for a military operation. Alfred is married to a woman who travels quite a bit for her own job. She is a no nonsense woman who is never seen smiling or laughing. As the story progresses, Harriet and Alfred develop a friendship, which has the underlying tension of being a romantic interest. Since both already have a significant other, nothing can be done with their growing attraction.

Sheik Muhammad (Amr Waked) makes numerous references to faith in the film. At one point, he asks Albert if he believes in God and compares it to fishing, saying as a result of Alfred’s hours of waiting he is rewarded for his faith and constancy. He also says, at another point, “I intended to create a small miracle. Something to glorify God and bring our tribes together. Sometimes I wonder if we haven’t created something that glorifies man. It is a very fine line.”

While the faith of Yemen is predominately Islamic, the quotes from the sheik in the film can apply to the Christian life. Oftentimes, we do something that we say is for God’s purposes or to glorify Him, but we can cross that fine line and have our hearts in the wrong place and do it for our own glory. We can be like the Pharisees in the Bible and boast, whereas it says in Luke 18:14 “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

I don’t want to give any spoilers. Otherwise, what is the fun of viewing the movie, if you know each twist and turn. That said, you may want to avoid this next paragraph, lest I spoil the ending, although I think most viewers would see where the story is going. I find it sad that a happy ending to a movie comes about through a break up of a marriage. The bonds of marriage are taken too lightly in many an instance. Living together before marriage, sex before marriage, alternative lifestyles, infidelity and divorce are seen as no big deal. If your marriage isn’t working out, a divorce is the answer, seems to be Hollywood’s message. Genesis 2:24 tells us “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” Marriage is not easy. It’s not always fun or pretty, and there will be many a hurdle. But I believe we are called to work hard at our marriages, not take the easy way out. Exhaust all possibilities, when your marriage is struggling. Work to keep it healthy. So when I saw this film, I was put off that it was so easy to just walk away from a marriage, no counseling, no attempts to talk about what is driving the couple apart.

I read a comment elsewhere for an upcoming movie where a woman said “Hollywood pushes an agenda, at first subtle, followed by mainstreaming. Whether it’s …divorces being normal….” And this individual was correct. Divorce is now normal, even in Christian circles. Whereas I don’t seek to condemn anyone who has had a divorce, what bothers me is how it is so mainstream, and it becomes a means to an end in this film. In order to have the happy ending, another marriage must end.

Objectionable Content: Although there is no nudity in this film, there are implied sexual relations. One involves a bedroom scene with moaning noises. Another has Harriet and her boyfriend shown in bed. In yet another, Alfred goes to comfort Harriet, and the next scene is morning. He is awake on her bed; she is sleeping. There is no implication that anything happened beyond him being there as support. It does raise the question of him having an interest in Harriet.

Foul and derogatory language, including British terms: as* (5), bast**d (2), God’s name in vain (8), b*tches (1), f**king (2), Jesus (2), Christ (1), bloody (12), hell (5), arse (1), “Nancy” (an effeminate or homosexual man) (1), wanker (1).

This was a charming movie, and the opposite personalities of Harriet and Alfred make them interesting characters I enjoyed watching. The humor is quick witted and mostly related to Alfred’s disposition. Other than the frequent use of bad language, it is an enjoyable movie and a pleasant alternative to this summer’s action movies.

Violence: Minor / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Minor

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—This movie was much better then I expected it to be, having more twists and turns then you would expect. I definitely do NOT like that the married person leaves his wife for the main female actress. Unfortunately, that is how this country seems to operate, and there are hardly any movies that don’t have adultery or premarital sex. Obviously don’t support those things but when it comes to movies like this, I look at the things I can learn from the movie. And, of course, him the Arabic prince praying to his god, this is not a Christian film and there are other religions out there even if we don’t agree with them.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Samantha Taylor, age 38 (USA)
Neutral—I really liked everything in this movie that had to do with the sheik’s dream of bringing salmon fishing to his country. It was very witty and clever, until it turned into the typical romance where one character is already married and the other has a really nice boyfriend waiting for her. I would have liked it better if they just remained close friends.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Kadie Jo, age 20 (USA)
Neutral—This was a wonderful movie, an Arab sheik finding faith everywhere, infecting it into the British he meets. But his British helpers, all they needed to do was help him with his enormous project. They did not need to fall in love. It’s so easy to fall in love, but God has given us the ability to resist! We don’t need to act on our feelings.

Dr. Jones and Harriet could have set up the project and gone home. Would that have been so bad? Yes, for Hollywood producers, apparently. Which is sad, that a film so filled with faith has to be marred by two married couples breaking up.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Jim, age 61 (USA)
Movie Critics
“…very British… …features Blunt in ‘Young Victoria’ mode, in a decidedly old-fashioned romance that replaces modern-day vulgarity with the decorum of formal courtship. …” [2½/4]
Gary Thompson, Philadelphia Daily News
“…Go ahead — take the bait… screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (‘Slumdog Millionaire’) introduces just the right note of astringency… ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’ isn’t as sharply satirical as the epistolary Paul Torday novel on which it is based. But trust me: These are characters with whom it’s a pleasure to spend a couple of hours.” [3/4]
Lou Lumenick, New York Post
“…The first 2012 mainstream release for literate audiences… McGregor and Blunt have a sweet chemistry…” [B]
James Verniere, The Boston Herald
“…some charming laughs and a quaint romance… The film's many loose ends are tied up a little too neatly in the finale. But given the upstream journey the picture faced in reducing a meandering fable into a two-hour tale, Salmon is a catch.”
Scott Bowles, USA Today
“…full of whimsy… if you find McGregor and Blunt appealing, the movie will have you feeling similarly about it.” [3/4]
Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer
“…half a good movie. In a strained effort to balance comedy and drama, the latter suffocates the former, spoiling a significant amount of goodwill generated in a mostly pleasant first half. … ‘Salmon Fishing’ should have remained a comedy. It could have been a really good one.”
Paul Doro, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“…gently winning romantic comedy… a study in diametric opposites that finds unexpected synchronies and moments of almost mystical harmony. Viewers who take the sheik’s advice and suspend their disbelief, even for a moment, may well find themselves hooked.”
Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post
“…a missed opportunity, with a cornball happy ending. Only Kristin Scott Thomas, as the hypercharged operative for the prime minister, seems to understand she’s in a comedy.” [ ½/4]
Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

PLEASE share your observations and insights to be posted here.