Lasse Hallström's film, adapted from the bestseller by Paul Torday, mixes such a variety of tone and incident it should fall flat on its face.
That it doesn't is due to some fine screenwriting by Simon Beaufoy, who wrote The Full Monty. Fred (Ewan McGregor) is a nerdy scientist (Dept of Fisheries) hired by Harriet (Emily Blunt), the representative of a visionary sheikh, to bring salmon to the wadis of the Yemen. It looks impossible, unless the sheikh's wealth and hard-as-nails Brit mandarin Kristin Scott Thomas, angling for a rare good news story from the Middle East, can pull the rabbit out of a hat – or, rather, induce the salmon to swim upstream.
Somewhere a smarter, quirkier film is fighting to get out, but Hallström's middlebrow sensibility and Dario Marianelli's mushy score keep dragging the material down.