“Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” is a bit of Orientalist bunk wherein a genteel, well-heeled sheikh will enlighten his new Occidental pal in the ways of faith, as well as comic drama about one workplace romance and 10 Downing Street. Sheikh Muhammed (Cairo native Amr Waked) is a fly-fishing aficionado who seeks to transplant his hobby in the Scottish Highlands, where he owns a castle, to his native Yemen. Yemeni locals here come off better than their incensed anti-American countrymen seen in “Rules of Engagement” (2000), other than a handful of disgruntled fundamentalists making an attempt on the sheikh’s life and sabotaging his hydro folly designed by fourteen Chinese engineers from the Three Gorges Project. Lasse Hallström (“Dear John,” “Chocolat”) directs Simon Beaufoy’s (“The Full Monty,” “Slumdog Millionaire”) adaptation of Paul Torday’s 2006 novel. A UK image-calamity prompts the PM’s top PR whiz Patricia Maxwell (Kristin Scott Thomas) to find a “good news” story in the Middle East. The sheikh’s improbable dream is perfect. None of her crude, calculating moves approximate those seen “In the Loop” (2009), a superior acidic satire of Brit media machinations. Dr. Fred Jones (Ewan McGregor) from the National Centre for Fisheries must work with the sheikh’s flack Harriet (Emily Blunt). An initial mismatch of temperaments will take its trite course. Fred’s investment-banker wife is off to Switzerland for a long project; Harriet’s Special Forces boyfriend is deployed to Afghanistan. Iridescent-scaled trout out of their usual waters will do what comes natural. As will natty sunburnt Brits in their khakis and white cottons. “I don’t know anyone who goes to church anymore,” observes Harriet. “Neither do I,” offers Fred. “On Sunday, we go to Target.” This “facts-and-figures man” will learn about the ineffable from the Yemeni “man of faith” who will pay his new ichthyologist untold riches over his former pay grade. With Catherine Steadman, Tom Mison, Rachael Stirling, Tom Beard, Nayef Rashed. 108m. (Bill Stamets)
“Salmon Fishing In The Yemen” opens today at River East and Landmark Century.