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Mark Peters

 

It is easy to knock fluffy romantic comedy Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (HBO, tonight at 10pm) because, despite its unusual title, it's a film we've seen a hundred times before. Based on the bestselling novel of the same name, by Paul Torday, it sets out, with heart-warming charm, to offend absolutely no one. Palatable enough to gently tickle most people's taste buds, it's the movie equivalent of a holiday paperback. That's not to say it's trashy and throwaway but five minutes in and you realise it may as well be labelled "Full of No Surprises".

Scripted by Simon Beaufoy (The Full Monty, Slumdog Millionaire) and directed by Swede Lasse Hallstrom (Chocolat, The Cider House Rules), the British romantic comedy stars Ewan McGregor (a man never afraid to unsheath his lightsaber) as Dr Alfred Jones, an uptight salmon expert who quickly finds himself out of his depth when an astonishingly wealthy fishing-obsessed sheikh (Amr Waked; Syriana) decides to introduce his favourite pastime to the deserts of the Middle East. Add a love interest in the form of investment consultant Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (the ravishing Emily Blunt; The Devil Wears Prada) to a contrived, whimsical plot (Jones and Talbot find each other utterly ridiculous at first, only for romance to eventually blossom - who could have seen that coming?) and it's business as usual for an agreeable feel-good Sunday.

McGregor revels in a role far removed from his typically roguish characters and with delightful performances from Blunt and Kristin Scott Thomas (as the acerbic press secretary to the British prime minister) it may be all-too-obvious bait hanging from Hallstrom's line, but that doesn't mean getting hooked isn't easy.

 

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