Wednesday, June 20: I have been searching and searching in the Muscat cinemas for my kind of movie for a long time. As a matter of fact, I’ve only been one time to the cinema in Muscat (we have no cinemas in Nizwa!) to see a really bad movie, One for the Money, when my sons were visiting in early February. For a movie-loving girl like me, going to the cinema only one time in 9 months is like going through severe withdrawal from an addictive habit. Now that I’ve seen a glimmer of hope here in Muscat, I will pay more attention to the movie listings in hopes of finding other great movies like this one.
Most of the movies shown in Oman are either Bollywood movies, which I like but they have Arabic subtitles, or the blockbuster American action/thriller/adventure movies that are also highly popular in the USA. Lately the cinemas here also seem to have an infatuation with 3D movies, which I dislike immensely. I generally don’t enjoy these kinds of movies at all, even in America. I seek out first-run independent and foreign language films, documentary features and classic revivals that are of a quieter type, character driven, with a quirky or interesting story. In the Washington area, there are several theaters that feature these kinds of films, namely Cinema Arts Theatre in Fairfax, Virginia; Bethesda Row Cinema in Bethesda, Maryland; and E Street Cinema and Avalon Theatrein Washington, D.C.
So. Drumroll, please…. TA DA!! The movie I drove to directly from work on Wednesday afternoon because it was the last day it was showing in Oman was: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, playing at City Cinema Shatti in Muscat.
The plot summary is as follows, from IMDb: “A visionary sheikh believes his passion for the peaceful pastime of salmon fishing can enrich the lives of his people, and he dreams of bringing the sport to the not so fish-friendly desert. Willing to spare no expense, he instructs his representative to turn the dream into reality, an extraordinary feat that will require the involvement of Britain’s leading fisheries expert who happens to think the project both absurd and unachievable. That is, until the Prime Minister’s overzealous press secretary latches on to it as a ‘good will’ story. Now, this unlikely team will put it all on the line and embark on an upstream journey of faith and fish to prove the impossible, possible.”
I love this movie! It especially hits home since the story takes place in Yemen, which lies to the southwest of Oman and has a similar landscape to my temporary home country. Although, the actual filming was done in London, Scotland and Morocco, the landscape in the film looks similar to the arid desert and the wadis of Oman.
I also love the characters, especially the quiet fisheries expert, Dr. Alfred Jones, played by Ewan McGregor, who is a man with high-functioning Asperger’s Syndrome, and Harriet, played by Emily Blunt, who is the sheikh’s representative. I love the quiet camaraderie that develops between Dr. Jones and Sheikh Muhammed, played by Amr Waked, with their almost mystical infatuation with fishing. At one point the Sheikh asks Dr. Jones if he is a man of faith; Jones replies that he isn’t. The Sheikh is surprised because he sees fishing as the ultimate expression of faith: a fisherman must spend all day casting a line with the simple belief that he can catch a fish. He must have patience. Belief. Faith.
From the book of the same name by Paul Torday: “Faith is the cure that heals all troubles. Without faith there is no hope and no love. Faith comes before hope, and before love.”
At the beginning of the movie, Dr. Jones is stuck in a stale marriage, drifting along with a cynical attitude about life. Harriet has just met a young soldier named Robert, who has to leave for an undisclosed location three weeks after they meet. At one point Robert is reported missing in action, and, since Harriet and Dr. Jones are working together, Dr. Jones is there to provide comfort and solace to Harriet. Of course, a romance quietly develops between the good doctor and Harriet in the absence of Robert. Maybe a little sappy and unbelievable. But. I love it nonetheless.
I am thrilled to have finally found what I consider a GOOD movie in Muscat. Thank goodness for small favors… 🙂