Fishing? Yemen? Emily Blunt takes risk with quirky film

Emily Blunt’s parents don’t usually try to persuade their famous daughter to take on movie roles. But Blunt’s parents couldn’t resist after reading Paul Torday’s critically acclaimed bestseller, “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.”

“I told my parents that I might do this fly fishing film. My mother gasped on the other end of the phone. ‘You have to do it. We love this story,'” Blunt explained as we chatted before the film’s premiere at Toronto’s Princess of Wales Theatre.

“At the end of the day it was my decision. But I’m glad I said yes,” said the 28-year-old British actress.

True to Torday’s book, “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” is a wonderfully quirky fable that feels like a cross between “The Office” and “Yes Minister.”

This adaptation penned by “Slumdog Millionaire” screenwriter Simon Beaufoy also has a charm that compels audiences to believe in the unbelievable.

The story revolves around an introverted scientist (Ewan McGregor) who works for Britain’s Department of Fisheries and Agriculture. His job is boring. His marriage is a mess. But his dull existence is transformed thanks to a scheme hatched by a fly fishing sheikh to introduce salmon to the wadis of the Yemen.

The whole idea, of course, is far-fetched and risky.

“Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” dares to blend political satire, existential ideas, religion and an oddball romance between the disillusioned Dr. Jones and the sheikh’s vivacious representative (Blunt). But with director Lasse Hallstrom at the helm the gamble works.

“I’m one for taking chances,” said Blunt. “Every now and then you have to do a movie for the heart. It’s essential.”