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

Cars 3 Movie Review

Cars 3 Movie Review

It's been six years since the last Cars movie (there were two Planes movies in...

The Beguiled Movie Review

The Beguiled Movie Review

In her inimitable loose style, Sofia Coppola remakes the 1971 Clint Eastwood movie from a...

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

The surprisingly thoughtful prequel trilogy comes to a powerful conclusion with this robust, dramatic thriller,...

It Comes At Night Movie Review

It Comes At Night Movie Review

This sharply original horror film not only approaches its premise from an unexpected angle, but...

Okja Movie Review

Okja Movie Review

As Tilda Swinton reteams with her Snowpiercer director, Korea's Bong Joon Ho, it's perhaps unsurprising...

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

This may be the third reboot of this franchise in 15 years, risking audience exhaustion,...

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Actually the fourth film in the series (don't forget the prequel Minions), this animated super-villain...

Advertisement
Baby Driver Movie Review

Baby Driver Movie Review

Wildly energetic and so cool it hurts, this action movie has been put together in...

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

There's a clear sense that this Tupac Shakur biopic is hoping to build on the...

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

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.