The Shipping News

"OK"

The Shipping News Review


"The Shipping News" is the kind of mundanely well-tuned movie designed for the singular purpose of winning undeserved Oscars for its award-avaricious studio, Miramax.

Its director, Lasse Hallstrom, has seen his last two middling Miramax movies ("Chocolat," "The Cider House Rules") nominated for 12 Academy Awards, winning two. Its stars, Kevin Spacey, Julianne Moore, Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett, have eight nominations and three wins between them. The film is adapted from a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Academy-nominated screenwriter Robert Nelson Jacobs ("Chocolat," again).

But for all that talent, this picture makes no kind of resounding impression, except one of overwhelming self-importance.

Kevin Spacey, who it seems has already shown us his entire acting repertoire, cobbles together various mannerisms we've seen before into a new configuration as Quoyle, a miserable milksop of a man whose horrible childhood with an abusive father set him up for a lifetime of indignity. This includes a crumbled marriage to an unfaithful trailer tart (Cate Blanchett in a splendidly sexy-repugnant performance), whom he still loves so much that he's devastated when she dies in car crash while running away with another man.

Add to this the recent murder-suicide of his parents, and it all becomes too much for Quoyle to take. This guy can barely cope with everyday life and raising an 8-year-old daughter. So even though he's afraid to step outside the familiar little box of his life, when Quoyle's scrappy, butch, old aunt Agnis (Judi Dench) comes calling from his ancestral home of Newfoundland (to execute vengeful plans for her brother's ashes), it doesn't take much persuading for him to pack up and go back with her.

Spacey takes Quoyle on a journey of self-discovery that is quite nuanced and revealing as he finds himself growing comfortable for the first time in his life, despite living in Agnis's completely dilapidated house, which is isolated on a craggy seaside point so wind-belted that the four corners of the home are anchored into the surrounding rock by steel cables. He takes a job reporting ships in and out of harbor for the local paper (thus the film's title) and slowly begins to emerge from his shell. He learns to sail (he hates the water), asserts himself with his obstinate editor (Pete Postlethwaite) and takes a shine to a local schoolteacher (Julianne Moore) with a retarded son, begetting awkwardly romantic results.

Aside from the convincing and emotionally earnest, but unremarkable and distant performances, almost everything the film has going for it comes from the source material. The undercurrent of battened-down emotions that runs through the town (the house is a powerful metaphor), the painful secrets in everyone's past -- especially those of Quoyle's family -- these are the elements that grab hold of the viewer.

Hallstrom does contribute a realistic sense of place in his choice of the movie's rugged, winter-assaulted locales and the casting of eccentric townspeople, some of whom help make for an eerie atmosphere. But otherwise the director seems busy plying the picture with the kind of highbrow melodrama that has become a hallmark of the awards season.

"The Shipping News" is a perfectly adequate movie if you want your heartstrings pulled in a conventional way. But it's pretty pallid stuff to be jockeying for awards. Of course, that's never stopped the Academy from nominating such films before. Hallstrom and Miramax are definitive proof of that.



The Shipping News

Facts and Figures

Run time: 111 mins

In Theaters: Friday 11th January 2002

Box Office USA: $11.4M

Distributed by: Miramax Films

Production compaines: Miramax Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 55%
Fresh: 72 Rotten: 58

IMDB: 6.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Quoyle, as Wavey Prowse, as Petal, as Agnis Hamm, as Tert Card, as Jack Buggit, as Beaufield Nutbeem, as Billy Pretty, as Dennis Buggit, as Grace Moosup, as Bayonet Melville, as Silver Melville

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

Advertisement
The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.