The Shipping News
Healing hands. Wavey (Moore) helps Quoyle (Spacey) sort out his life...
dir Lasse Hallstrom
scr Robert Nelson Jacobs
with Kevin Spacey, Julianne Moore, Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett, Pete Postlethwaite, Scott Glenn, Rhys Ifans, Gordon Pinsent, Jason Behr, Alyssa Gainer, Kaitlyn Gainer, Lauren Gainer
release US 25.Dec.01; UK 1.Mar.02
01/US 1h41

3 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
you never know what you'll find Chocolat's writer-director-studio team are back with another worthy adaptation of a bestselling novel. And while this story is much grittier, it's also just a bit too Deep and Meaningful for its own good. We're in Upstate New York, where Quoyle (Spacey) is completely adrift in life. Then he meets the sparky Petal (Blanchett), who somehow falls for him and gives him a daughter Bunny (played by the three Gainers) before dying in a car crash. So Quoyle takes Bunny to live with his matter-of-fact aunt (Dench) in the family's ancestral home in Newfoundland. There he gets a job writing the shipping news for a local paper, and the microscopic community closes around him to help him discover who he really is.

Beautifully filmed and blessed with an intelligent, edgy script, this is a very watchable movie that often hits all the right buttons, making us think about the issues at hand (mostly how we can be healed from past troubles). The quirky assemblage of characters are played to perfection, with Blanchett's brief role a complete film-stealer, and Dench giving yet another effective turn as a cranky battleaxe. Glenn, Postlethwaite and Ifans provide funny workplace antics; Moore provides a romantic interest for the slowly healing Quoyle. Yes, it's tender and introspective and it draws in the rugged natural beauty, harsh weather and offbeat culture very nicely. The problem is that every tiny thing has to mean something, and the filmmakers don't trust us to make the connections without their help ... right up to the abrupt and obvious ending.
adult themes and situations, language, violence cert 15 28.Jan.02

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2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall