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Tag Archives: Ewan McGregor

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Seems to me one of the most common accusations levelled at some films is that they’re predictable. And of course they are. Most films are made to be sold, and sold within a particular genre. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen deftly avoids such categorisation, and is one of the best character-driven films I’ve ever seen.

Of course the problem faced by film makers who choose material like this is how to sell it. Having seen clips for it, I mostly dismissed it, and only made the effort to see it when I had just seen a whole bunch of films and wanted another. It was not my first choice, but of all the films I’ve seen this week (and I’ve seen a lot more than usual this week), this was the best.

The story is centred on a couple of public servants who find themselves at the centre of an exercise in international relations. Emily Blunt plays a consummate professional who has mastered the art of eternal optimism. And Ewan McGregor plays an infinitely more staid and predictable realist. These two find themselves pursuing the whimsical dream of a Yemeni Sheikh, played engagingly by Amr Waked, to introduce the sport of Salmon fishing to his dry homeland.

The story charts an unpredictable course through the ups and downs of the project, but along the way the central characters, even the Sheikh to some extent, become intensely human as they navigate life. It sounds corny, I suppose, but this really is an intensely human story, with all the pathos you could wish for, and none of the schmaltz. How screenwright Simon Beaufort and novelist Paul Torday managed this, I don’t know, but I take my hat off to them. I wish I could be relied upon to write like that.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen has become one of my favourite films, just like that.

 
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Posted by on Sunday, 17 June 2012 in BBC Films, British Film, Film, Lionsgate, Unpredictable

 

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The Ghost Writer

To the extent that Americans love a good conspiracy theory, the Brits are equally keen on questioning the integrity of their Prime Minsters. Roman Polanski caters for both predilections in his magnificent new film, The Ghost Writer.

Ewan McGregor plays the titular character, a writer hired to massage the memoirs of a former British Prime Minister into shape following the mysterious death of another ghost writer. Gradually, and innocently (which is refreshing), he discovers a web of intrigue and finds himself reluctantly wrapped up in it, at his own peril.

However much I like this as a film, it’s the story, penned originally as a novel by Robert Harris, that I find so magnificently intriguing. Remaining almost entirely fictitious, and needing no awkward date stamp, this story draws a shocking parallelism from the circumstances surrounding the era of fear following the 9/11 attacks. And surprisingly, since it parallels so literally the Anglo-American response, it is as relevant here in Australia as in the US and UK.

I can’t say too much about it, lest I spoil it for you, but this is a great film, and you must go see it. That is all.

 
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Posted by on Thursday, 19 August 2010 in British Film, Film, France 2 Cinema, French Film

 

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