Beautiful Scottish and Moroccan landscapes – substituting for the Yemen – lift the look of this film to a special place.
Sly comments on politics in a clever script get let down by a very clumsy romantic comedy angle. Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt seem to be great friends, but lack the passionate spark that makes the best romcoms feel true.
Kristin Scott Thomas is terrific in every scene she’s in, but the whole film slows down too often when she isn’t on screen.
The construct of the plot is a brilliant idea and so close to the American idea of English eccentricity that this movie is bound to do well in the USA.
Fish expert McGregor is approached by consultant Blunt to import salmon fishing into the Yemen. The idea belongs to Sheikh Muhammed, who is outstandingly played by Egyptian actor Amr Waked.
Tom Mison, Rachael Stirling and Conleth Hill all have great turns, but all too often this film is let down by cloying, annoying and unbelievable scenes between Blunt and McGregor that just feel endless.
I saw this at a special free preview for members of Stratford Picturehouse. You could feel the restless waves of muted phones being tapped on whenever the scene showed just Blunt and McGregor.
The 12-year age gap between the two leads in real life feels like a much bigger difference here. There is something schoolgirlish about Blunt, while McGregor seems to be playing the role much older than his actual years.
Director Lasse Hallstrom’s trademark visuals pull this off, but the romcom leads don’t command their scenes.
Writer Simon Beaufoy has created a stylish script, but it also falls a little flat when the two leads are alone.
There’s irony in noting that the leads have better chemisty with the two loves they start out with than with each other.
I wanted to love this. I liked it, but didn’t warm to it. Scott Thomas is fabulous and Amr Waked will be worth watching in anything. Mison, Hill and Sterling are all amazing.
It’s a pity the two ill-cast leads – both just fine elsewhere and with others – let down so much of a film that is pretty and original.