Spacey, Julianne Moore, Judi Dench, Scott Glenn, Rhys Ifans,
Pete Postlethwaite and Cate Blanchett
Directed By: Lasse Hallström
Shipping News is brilliant, heartwarming, and divinely sublime
as the cast delivers one helluva film!
It's about one man discovering himself when he wasn't even
looking; when he's all but just given up.
familiar with E.
Annie Proulx's visceral scripting of lives -not-so-ordinary-in-reality
will be pleasantly coddled as her "Shipping News"
characters are brought to amazing life at the hands of some
our time's finest actors; Dame Judi Dench, Julianne Moore, Cate
Blanchett and Kevin Spacey. Each is already known for disappearing
into their roles, and with the combination of Proulx's perfect
characters (nay, misfits) and Hallström's direction the
actors seemed engulfed. Screenwriter, Robert Nelson Jacobs,
has adapted her Pulitzer prize winning tale for the screen.
(Kevin - could this guy be sexier in L.L. Bean wear? Um,
no! Spacey) is a sad, nearly nonexistent man. He gets
no respect from anyone he holds near and dear. He's a guy you
pass on the street and may remark at, if only to notice how
sad he appears. His life is nothing spectacular. His story?
His story is another kettle of boiling water all together
life takes a few dramatic turns as we meet him. His gallivanting
wife Petal (Cate "intense" Blanchett) has absconded
with their young daughter Bunny and his parents have done something
equally dramatic (though I shouldn't expose the story...).
The events find him thrown together with his tough-as-nails
Newfoundland born aunt Agnis Hamm (Dame Judi Dench). With his
run of luck at the deeper end of long over, she invites him
to try a fresh start, up there.
literally nothing to lose, Quoyle (pronounced coil) manages
to get his daughter back and follows Auntie Hamm up to his family's
historic birthplace. A barren rock his people called home, only
forty odd years ago, called Killick-Claw. Think, middle of nowhere
with fantastic cliff and ocean views and the restaurant is the
only restaurant. Small, quaint and a perfect place to
hide from your troubles and the world. The
scenery and landscaping is also as much a character, riddled
with subplot, as any of the people we are to meet (Metaphor
and his precocious, and "sensitive," daughter Bunny
are adjusting and getting to know their new neighbors on the
small hamlet ( that appears to never see the season of summer!).
Quoyle is also experiencing a new found meaning to life in Newfoundland.
He is hired as a small-time reporter for the local rag-mag and
community pulse serving paper The Gammy Bird. His writing starts
to affect all aspects of his sad sullen little mundane life.
meets an equally sad and sullen gal named Wavey (Julianne -
glimmering/shimmering beauty- Moore). She' s a widow who wears
her heart on her sleeve and is weary of starting any new romances.
but mysterious happenings and awakenings start to emerge all
around Quoyle as well as a new sense of self, friendships and
life. What's it mean?
Shipping News is old time story telling at it's finest.
Newfoundland in itself is a bit of a mystical place to most
of us. Proulx creates her story's characters so rich in dimension
with that same timeless appeal like a "Huck Finn"
or "Nicholas Nickleby", one expects to look them up
in the local phone book when in town. But it's the subtle expert
performances for subtle yet animated characters make this simply
"Cuddleasnarus Rex" Spacey brings us, perhaps,
his finest performance to date in Quoyle .Yeah, yeah I know
I say that in every review! But he keeps morphing and
testing and growing continually topping himself ! Shaddup see.
Kev reveals Quoyle's soul is wounded and yet his heart, even
with all the injustices it has faced in its forty-something
years that should be bitter and hard, manages to pound sweet,
strong and hopeful. It's an unbelievable performance. Not that
this man is a scrumptious treat for the senses
not unlike like fresh fried Ipswich clams drizzled in tarter
sauce with a side of old fashioned delectable helping of New
England style cole slaw!
Spacey so great? Is it because he hung with Jack Lemmon in his
formative years as an actor? Or because (like myself) he adores
the complicated gritty works of Eugene O'Neill? Perhaps, because
he makes himself aloof to keep his personality out of his films,
thusly making himself completely disappear into the film? Um
Disagree? Get your own review. K-PAX
aside, his work is always brilliant, intense, or funny, or light
what ever he wants it to be. I'd breed with the man, sure, but
I'm also sure I will not be alone in my admiration for his performance
Dench is, as always, an inspiration on film.
Moore (Wavey) worked her plane Jane gorgeous self into a yarn
of great depth and feeling. We wanted to make her tea and give
her a hug by the end of the film.
"I'm in every movie on the marquee this winter" Blanchett
is a chameleon- somebody check her body temperature and dining
habits! As Quoyle's rude, nasty, sluty bimbette squared love
interest, Petal, she makes you loath her within the first forty-eight
and Quoyle's offspring, little "Bunny", was played
by triplets Alyssa, Kaitlyn, and Lauren Gainer. These gals could
give Haley Joel Osment a run for his bubblegum money. They played
beside veteran thespians like it was their birthright. You can
picture the little dolls finished with their scenes sneaking
off to be kids again "please pass the play dough, please,
I'm done with my scene mum."
"Kobayashi" Postlewaite plays Quoyle's nemesis at
the paper with tons of humor and that smoothness of delivery
he's so famous for. Love this man.
Welsh style Sheppard's Pie of a manly man, actor Ryhs Ifans
( Little Nicky, Notting
Hill) was adorable as Quoyle's new friend B. Beaufield Nutbeem.
It was such a pleasure to see him- on so many different levels.
Lasse Hallström (My Life as a Dog, Cider House Rules)
is famous for quirky studies on the human condition. Here he's
strung his cast together like a Newfoundland fisherman's net
and draws them so tightly together so as not a syllable of dialog
slips away. In lesser hands The Shipping News could have
been a sentimental sugar encrusted bakers dozen of stale over
done leaden donuts.
so many more involved and each deserves accolades for bringing
an already warm story to the screen with a remarkable toasty
reality that makes you laugh, stir, and wonder
recommendation: Plain Donuts, fried octopus tentacle sandwiches
Blunt Aside: Have you noticed the names I've listed;
Petal Wavey, Bunny? That's just some of Proulx's magic.
She chooses her names in such a way as to metaphorically
manipulate your mind without your even knowing it. Even
Quoyle has significance. After you see the film (which
is mandatory) - and pick up the book (you're only treating
yourself!) which is a tad more indepth - the names will
come gloriously into the light. Trust me.