Movie: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Movie: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Salmon Fishing in the YemenRating:  M Distributor: Roadshow Release Date: April 5, 2012Faith is the nothing word that means something to everyone. Lovers encourage each other to lean on it when their relationship appears doomed; politicians appeal to it when the public doubts their promises. For the average moviegoer it continues to mean confidence in the face of […]

By Mark HadleyTuesday 10 Apr 2012MoviesReading Time: 5 minutes

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Rating:  M
Distributor: Roadshow
Release Date: April 5, 2012

Faith is the nothing word that means something to everyone. Lovers encourage each other to lean on it when their relationship appears doomed; politicians appeal to it when the public doubts their promises. For the average moviegoer it continues to mean confidence in the face of the impossible, and that is the sort of faith they will find floating the dream that is Salmon Fishing In The Yemen.

Ewan McGregor plays Doctor Alfred Jones, a ‘facts and figures’ man in Britain’s National Centre for Fisheries Excellence. His marriage is foundering and all he has is a dissertation to keep him afloat. Into his boredom breezes Harriet Chetwode-Talbot, a personal assistant played by Emily Blunt. Her Yemeni employer wishes to use his mountains of money to introduce fly-fishing to his arid country. Jones responds with a John Cleese inspired lecture:

“Firstly we would have to trap 10,000 salmon from the North Sea, get them to the Yemen alive – don’t ask me how – where they would be deposited in temperature and oxygen controlled holding tanks which would – hallelujah! – open during the rainy season allowing them to migrate upstream for say 10 kilometres until the dry season … when they will all die.”

However Jones is trapped into participating in the mad scheme when Kirsten Scott-Thomas arrives as a prime ministerial media advisor in search of a good news story. And so the doctor begins his own desperate swim up stream against the improbabilities of making a cold water fish feel at home in the desert.

Salmon Fishing In The Yemen is based on Paul Torday’s award-winning novel, which is equal parts comedy and romance. The lion’s share of the laughs are stolen by Scott-Thomas as she channels the soulless spin of Stephen Fry from Absolute Power. But the film’s title is a suitable parallel for Jone’s prospect of finding love in his barren life.

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Director Lasse Hallström is no stranger to love struggles, having helmed Chocolat and The Cider House Rules. Reflecting on Salmon Fishing In The Yemen, he sees faith as one of those elements that, “…really moves us forward and propels us to cope with life, and go upstream.” In this case it allows Alfred to overcome the confines of his marriage and Harriet her connection to her missing boyfriend. In this context, faith means following your passions even when social contracts and consciences object. Yet faith’s most inspiring example emerges from the sheikh whose hopes his absurd plan will be he path to peace:

“For fishermen the only virtues are patience, tolerance and humility. I have a dream that one day, when voices grow heated and war is in the air that someone will say, ‘Gentlemen, let us arise … and go fishing.’”

In short, he hopes that changing the habits will lead to a change of heart. For that reason Salmon Fishing In The Yemen is more of a spiritual journey than a comic or romantic one. But will such faith be enough to keep its characters afloat? The sheikh has no more reason to believe his countrymen will prefer angling to angry words than Jones has that the salmon will last a season. A Christian’s concept of faith is as far away from theirs as Britain is from Yemen. Where Jones puts his faith in what he hopes will prove true, we have the truth proven, so we proceed in faith. That difference empowers us to swim against the current because we actually know something better awaits us.



Seventh Heaven

Rating:  G
Distributor: Eleven
Release Date: Daily, 10:00 am

Seventh Heaven is one of those serials that’s been filling mid-morning network time since 1996 – a Christian soapie about the family of a straight-talking pastor in a middle-American town. It’s intrigued me because of its ability to deliver addictive plotlines without delving into the seedy bag of tricks employed by other shows in its genre. But then I realized that though I might hazard an expert opinion, it would ultimately lack the credibility of a dedicated viewer. Which is why I’ve decided to yield the rest of this article … to my wife :o)

“…I know there’s no greater feelin than the love of family where can you go when the world don’t treat you right? The answer is home…..”

On first inspection 7th Heaven, the longest running family drama in Amercian television history (11 seasons) could be said to have all the hallmarks of a classic, schmaltzy sitcom; a great mum and dad, beautiful children, a well manicured two story white home in the suburbs. Even the obligatory dog – a white terrier ‘Happy’ not surprisingly rescued from the pound.

But there’s more to 7th Heaven than initially meets the eye. A depth to the storyline and distinct lack of perfection in the characters makes it not only watchable but unfailingly honest in its depiction of families, raising children and guiding them through life’s difficult choices.

The Camden’s are a Christian family and they make no excuse for this. The story revolves around Reverend Eric Camden a minister at the Glen Oak Community Church, his wife Annie a homemaker and their seven children. The show deals with many social and moral issues revolving around the family and Eric’s ministry including bullying, drug abuse, homelessness, teenage pregnancy and intrusive mobile phones, to name a few. It doesn’t offer glib answers nor does it shy away from people’s mistakes but instead focuses around themes of forgiveness, showing love through difficult situations, sacrifice for the sake of serving others and having a home that is open to everyone’s needs.

A minister friend of ours recently said that we want our families to have “soft edges” – families who look outwards, who love others and open their homes.  Eric and Annie clearly have a strong marriage with an equally strong emphasis on time to connect as husband and wife and care for their children. But they also have a home that welcomes others.  The objects of their compassion include

• Martin Brewer whose mother died when he was young and whose father was deployed who lives in the Camden’s converted garage
• Sandy Jameson a teenage mother, who doesn’t believe initially but still benefits from the Camden’s love
• Theodore “T-Bone” a sixteen year old homeless boy who lives with the Camden’s when he admits to sleeping in the church office at night.

Most of series ten is devoted to this theme. Though seven of the Camden’s four children have moved away, their home is still full. Christian compassion sees the opportunity for a new son or daughter, brother or sister in every present need.