What a disappointment this light-hearted romance proves to be. It has the most appealing trappings - good looking stars, attractive cinematography, quirky storyline – but under Hallstrom's efficient but uninspired direction, it ultimately ends up a predictable souffle with little spark.
The first half is the best. Lead players McGregor and Blunt have a persuasive camaraderie in playing the age old dilemma of opposites falling for each other. He's Dr Jones, the stuffy, mildly eccentric fisheries expert. She's Harriet, the stylish modern girl who enlists him in a scheme to enable salmon to go to the Yemen at the behest of the insanely wealthy, fish loving Sheikh Muhammed (Waked). Jones thinks the plan a nonsense idea, but as his marriage is falling apart he decides to go along with it. She has romantic problems of her own - her soldier boyfriend (Mison) has gone missing in action. The two strong minded individuals, initially at odds with one another, gradually thaw of course, under the watchful eye of the friendly and accommodating sheikh.
The two leads are resourceful, expert players and we warm to their charming antagonism towards one another, but once their romance develops in the second half the script nosedives as there's precious little conflict to sustain our interest. Scott Thomas has some good moments as the fierce, acid tongued Government representative always on the lookout for a good PR story, cutting her detractors down to size with experienced ease, The introduction of an assassination plot against the sheikh though is risible at best, bringing neither tension nor credibility to the proceedings.
Come the climax this amiable effort has degenerated into a routine romance with unconvincing dilemmas, the winning work mustered by the leads being swept aside by the tired conventions of the romcom genre. Shame. It could've scored a bullseye but misses by a mile.
EXTRAS ★★ The featurette Making Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (13:09); and the featurette The Fisherman in the Middle East: Novelist Paul Torday (3:16).