McGregor is Fred, a stiff-upper-lipped fisheries expert who has embraced mid-life mediocrity, until he is forced into the path of Blunt’s Harriet, who represents Sheikh Muhammed, a monied Middle Eastern with a plan to bring salmon fishing (which cuts through the Western class barriers, he says) to the highlands of Yemen.
A £50m injection later, and with Kristin Scott Thomas’s prime minister’s press secretary hoofing the project into action to secure a positive story, McGregor and Blunt begin an unlikely journey towards an even more unlikely romance.
It’s as British as they come, presenting a bumbling, Four Weddings-esque posh-voiced view of the Brits. McGregor and Blunt carry the blossoming romance well, McGregor handling Fred’s growth from life spectator to participant particularly effectively.
Scott Thomas steals scenes shamelessly as the smart-mouthed spin-seeker, Simon Beaufoy’s script calling to mind In The Loop’s razor-sharp satire here in the government spin-set scenes. The ingredients are there for a soulful journey of growth and inspiration, with political satire generating much of the comedy, despite the odd plot strand going a little untethered.
Director Lasse Hallström (The Cider House Rules) mostly succeeds with his adaptation of Paul Torday’s novel, but the gentleness and good-natured inoffensiveness ultimately renders it too nice for its own good.
Film review by Alasdair Morton
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas, Amr Waked | 12A | 107mins | Lionsgate
Good for: Inspirational lessons about going against the grain