Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
United Kingdom, 2011. UK Film Council, BBC Films, CBS Films, Lionsgate, Kudos Film and Television, Davis Films, Shine Pictures. Screenplay by based on the novel by Cinematography by Produced by Paul Webster. Music by Dario Marianelli. Production Design by Michael Carlin. Costume Design by Julian Day. Film Editing by Lisa Gunning. Golden Globe Awards 2011. Toronto International Film Festival 2011.
The war in Afghanistan is heating up and the bad PR it gives the Prime Minister of Britain needs to be thwarted. Looking to smooth things over with the public after a devastating terrorist attack committed by western forces, Press Manager Kristin Scott Thomas (in one of her most devilishly fabulous performances) decides to push through a project she discovers being fostered by a wealthy sheik (Amr Waked) and a civil servant in the Department of Fisheries (Ewan McGregor): they are planning to introduce salmon into the Yemen for the monarch’s angling pleasure. McGregor travels to the Middle East in an effort to get away from his crumbling marriage, while the sheikh’s financial agent (Emily Blunt) joins McGregor to escape her worries after her new boyfriend has been deployed into battle and gone missing; naturally the two find a middle ground. Sweet, light and ultimately very safe, this is Lasse Hallstrom at his most crowd pleasing, putting together hard elements with the maximum comfort possible, focusing on cutesy romance despite the fact that far more important things are going on in the story. It’s a pleasant, enjoyable experience, one that never gets very far beyond barely exploring the cultural and political issues it entails, with Scott Thomas’s frighteningly blunt character (in case you were wondering what ever happened to Fiona from Four Weddings and a Funeral, this is her nearly twenty years later) being the only one to bear the signs of a much more frightening reality than our gorgeous romantic heroes provide (and shouting at her son that she’s his “fucking mother” is the kind of eccentricity that the film thinks it maintains but never really does).