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Cleverly constructed out of emails, articles, diary excerpts and faux Hansard entries, the 2007 novel that spawned Salmon is a satire on spin and snafus.

Lasse Hallström’s adap instead offers romance, farce and aerial shots of the Yemeni desert and Scottish Highlands.

But it also offers Kristin Scott Thomas, whose tart government communications director Patricia Maxwell suggests she’s the only one who’s actually read Paul Torday’s bestseller. Spitting venom and stalking the corridors of power like Malcolm Tucker in a dress, she’s a bracing corrective in a yarn that otherwise tries to be inoffensive, even when addressing Middle East tensions, marriage breakdown and MIA soldiers.

Salmon has much in common with Chocolat , Dear John and The Cider House Rules , which saw Hallström seek to make middle-brow fiction populist.

Here, the difference is it’s based on an intriguing proposition: an initiative to build a salmon river on the Arabian peninsula, funded by a rich sheikh (Amr Waked) and requiring the expertise of Ewan McGregor’s ichthyologist.

Seeing McGregor’s defences eroded by the sheikh’s cod mysticism and Emily Blunt’s winsome fixer should be enticement enough to those who’ve read the novel, like the leads or look for movies with unusual titles.

But had writer Simon Beaufoy stuck closer to his source, the Full Monty man might have got a wider audience hooked.

Tamer than the book and not as funny, this is Salmon filleted. But McGregor and Blunt make fetching lovebirds, while Kristin Scott Thomas is off the scale in a rare comic outing.

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Neil Smith

Neil Smith is a freelance film critic who has written for several publications, including Total Film. His bylines can be found at the BBC, Film 4 Independent, Uncut Magazine, SFX Magazine, Heat Magazine, Popcorn, and more.