Film & DVD Review: The Shipping News

Running Time: 111 minutes

Directed by: Lasse Hallstrom

Screenplay by: Robert Nelson Jacobs

Starring: Dame Judi Dench, Kevin Spacey, Julianne Moore, Cate Blanchett, Pete Postlethwaite, Rhys Ifans, Scott Glenn

The Shipping News

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The Shipping News is based on Annie Prouix’s Pullitzer prize-winning novel. It tells the story of a broken man, a lonely man who has been undermined since childhood. Quoyle (played by Kevin Spacey) is in a dead-end job as a typesetter for the Poughkeepsie News in New York when he meets and marries Petal. Marriage and even his role of Father fail to change or lift Quoyle. It is only after both his wife and Father die and he is persuaded by his long lost aunt (played by Dame Judi Dench) to move back to his ancestral home in Newfoundland in Canada that a process of change within Quoyle begins.

It’s by no means all plain sailing! Quoyle finds out many secrets about his past and the small community he now lives amongst as he settles into the community.

The scenery was imposing and its severity and wild beauty reflected the inner conflicts of the central characters. The cinematography alone made the movie very watchable. The locale was probably the most powerful “character” in the film.

Though the backdrop of Newfoundland is bleak (though beautiful) the story itself becomes less so after the move. We see Quoyle begin to gain strength and confidence when supported by friends, family and neighbours. Where before he was frightened to tell his daughter simply that her mother was dead he now feels able to do so. He begins to come to terms with the “unfinished business” of his childhood. The message of the film is positive — a broken man can be healed.

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