The Shipping News



Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Rotten 54%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 61%
IMDb Rating 6.7 10 33104

Plot summary

October 11, 2022 at 10:22 AM


Lasse Hallström

Top cast

Rhys Ifans as Beaufield Nutbeem
Cate Blanchett as Petal
Kevin Spacey as Quoyle
Julianne Moore as Wavey Prowse
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1 GB
English 2.0
24 fps
1 hr 51 min
P/S ...
2.05 GB
English 5.1
24 fps
1 hr 51 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by rmax304823 8 / 10

New Wind Sweeps Clean


It doesn't start out promising. As in "American Beauty," we hear Kevin Spacey's exhausted voice-over telling us how he was physically mishandled by his father and how empty his life is now. A brief marriage to a half-mad Kate Blanchett results in a child, Bunny, but it doesn't seem to help Spacey. At his father's funeral he runs into an aunt from a Canadian maritime province and, having no particular reason for existence in upstate New York, travels home with her.

That's when the story proper begins to get a bit more lively. This is a barren windswept place, tucked so far up into the northern latitudes that even at noon objects leave long shadows on the salt grass. People fish in this small village. They eat "seal flipper pies" made of the more cartilaginous parts of the fin. People speak with a kind of mid-Atlantic accent and they have queer names like Card and Buggitt and Quoyle. The town seems so dull that one day the tide may go out and never come back.

But it's livelier than it sounds underneath those lowering skies. Spacey gets a job at the local newspaper, The Gammy Bird or something like that. Well, okay, it's not the New York Times, but even the Pt. Reyes Lighthouse won a Pulitzer a few years ago. His assignment: write the shipping news, detailing which ships enter and leave port, and throw in any relevant bits of information. Also cover the regular car wrecks. Spacey runs into the couple who have just brought a yacht into harbor, a yacht that was built for Adolph Hitler, and does a story on it, much to the pleasure of the editor (Scott Glenn) who spends most of his time fishing. His career as journalist progresses, punctuated by the headlines he gradually learns to compose. An older colleague takes him to the shore, tells him to look at the horizon, and describe what he sees. "There are some mountains -- and a lot of dark clouds," ventures Spacey. "Nope: IMMINENT STORM THREATENS VILLAGE," says his mentor. "But what if it doesn't come?" Spacey asks. Answer: "DANGEROUS STORM SPARES VILLAGE."

There's a lot of humor in this film actually but none of it is played for laughs. It's the kind of humor that grows out of everyday encounters, unremarked upon but palpably there. Much of it is provided by the headlines. After some social coup, Spacey smiles with satisfaction and muses, "CLUMSY MAN STUNS CROWD." (It's a little like the "Windbag" chapter in "Ulysses.")

Spacey also runs into Julianne Moore, than whom there is no less glamorous or more talented actress on screen these days, who has a retarded child and a punk history of her own. The romance moves slowly and tentatively along as it might in life outside of the movies. The couple do not throw themselves into bed on their first night together and dissolve in an ecstasy of sighs and moans.

But it's basically the story of Spacey's self discovery. Nothing as simple as, "EMPTY MAN GOES HOME AND FINDS HIS ROOTS." Not a bit of it. His family has a lunatic and criminal history on these islands and the secrets are uncovered bit by bit, a patchwork of incest, rape, torture, piracy, and murder, all symbolized by a dreary haunted-looking old house anchored to the stone shore by steel cables and turnbuckles to hold it against the storms.

Well, a storm finally does lash the village. I was in such a storm, a hurricane in fact, in a small seaside village outside of Pago Pago in American Samoa. After a day and a night of savagery the dawn came and I was amazed after I'd crawled out from what was left of the place into the crisp new air -- trees down, bushes blasted away, huts shredded, and a majestic vista now that so many obstructions had been flattened. Something like that happens here. The final headline: "STORM DESTROYS HOUSE. LEAVES EXCELLENT VIEW."

I can't NOT mention Kevin Spacey's performance. He's so wispy and insensate at the beginning that he barely exists. He's heavier than usual here and walks in a fitting fashion. Now this is much tougher than what Russell Crowe did with his shambling in "A Beautiful Mind," or Dustin Hoffman's tics in "Rain Man," because Spacey has not to EMBODY a mental illness but to suggest a spiritual one. His performance is as close to perfection as it's possible to imagine, although by definition it must lack bravura. Moore is first rate, as usual, her flattish face almost luminous with sensibility, and the smaller parts are just fine. So is the direction. Spacey has, by my count, three nightmares about his childhood and not once does he wake up and thrust his face into the camera and scream. The score is understated during the film but rackets along behind the credits percussively in something like 6/8 time.

See this if you can, really, for an acting lesson if for no other reason, as long as you don't expect to find a slasher crawling through a fish factory with a chef's knife.

Reviewed by FlickJunkie-2 9 / 10

Spacey and Hallstrom shine in a moving story

Director Lasse Halstrom continues to prove himself to be outstanding at presenting sensitive human dramas with this touching film about a broken man's retreat to his ancestral roots. This poignant tale unwinds deliberately and delicately as each of the main characters shares his or her dark secrets buried in the past.

Halstrom is an inspired actors' director who entices outstanding performances from his troupe. He has a wonderful ability to make simple characters appear bigger than life. I continue to admire his unobtrusive presentation, forgoing ostentatious directorial stylizing in favor of simple shots that let the story and the characters dominate. The cinematography and choice of locations in this film are understated and lovely without the need for garishness.

The acting is superb. Kevin Spacey, as Quoyle, once again shows his range, taking on an emotionally crippled character that is quite unlike the confident and clever characters that jump off his resume. Spacey relinquishes all traces of the cockiness that is his trademark and brilliantly renders a pathetic nebbish whose greatest daily struggle is to overcome his own ennui. For Spacey to suppress his natural dynamism to slip this character on so effectively is a testimony to his excellence as an actor.

While this is clearly Spacey's film, the supporting cast of accomplished veterans weaves a splendid tapestry. Julianne Moore is excellent as Quoyle's love interest with a delicate portrayal of a character that is simultaneously supportive and insecure. Judi Dench is marvelous as Quoyle's crusty old aunt, who drags him back to Newfoundland to find himself among the ashes of his unseemly clan. Cate Blanchett is bodacious as the impulsive vamp who ravishes Quoyle and stays with him only long enough to give him a daughter. Scott Glenn is terrific as the cantankerous publisher of the local newspaper who turns Quoyle from a typesetter into a reporter.

This film is not for everyone. It is extremely deliberate and will fray the patience of the average viewer. However, for those who have a love of human interest stories with flawed but lovable characters, this will be a treat. I rated it a 9/10. It is a gem of human foibles and interactions that is moving and insightful.

Reviewed by blanche-2 7 / 10


It's rare to see a movie made with such tender loving care. Director Hallstrom gathered the best cast and crew he could find for this film. The cinematography is glorious - I can't believe Oliver Stapleton isn't up for every award in the world. Kevin Spacey turns in the best performance of his career as a brutalized man, Cate Blanchett is her usual chameleon self as his trashy girlfriend, Julianne Moore is perfection as the woman who helps him heal, and Judi Dench is funny and touching as his aunt. Hers is a role without a huge amount of lines but tons of substance. Only a master could have given the character such depth.

The Shipping News has poignancy, humor and a great deal of beauty. What it has above all else is atmosphere - Hallstrom's feel for the Newfoundland shipping village, the simple lives led there and the friendships made is truly awe-inspiring.

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1 Comment

Storey_001 profile
Storey_001 October 11, 2022 at 10:44 am

Thanks Freeman