An inksetter in New York, Quoyle returns to his family's longtime home, a small fishing town in Newfoundland, with his young daughter, after a traumatizing experience with her mother, Petal, who sold her to an illegal adoption agency. Though Quoyle has had little success thus far in life, his shipping news column in the newspaper "The Gammy Bird" finds an audience, and his experiences in the town change his life. Then he meets the widow Wavey... Written by
The author of the novel, E. Annie Proulx, would only grant the film rights to the book upon the condition that it be filmed on location in Newfoundland. See more »
Agnis' head and hand change positions between shots while sitting in the large leather chair listening to Quoyle. See more »
[father teaching him literally to sink or swim]
I used to imagine that I'd been given to the wrong family at birth, and that somewhere in the world my real people longed for me. From where my father stood, my failure to dog-paddle was only the first of many failures. Failure to speak clearly, failure to sit up straight, failure to make friends every time we moved to another dreary upstate town. In me, my father recognized a failed life. His own.
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As a man with some very strong Newfoundland roots, let me comment on this movie.
First, I was not a BIG fan of the book. Proulx's writing style, while unique and engaging for athe first hundred pages, quickly becomes cloying and irritating in the last 200. While here characters were elegantly and ingeniously crafted (Billy Pretty, both in tyhe pages and on the screen by Newfie Gordon Pinsent being the best of the bunch), and here sparse descriptions of the Newfoundland landscape befitting the sparse and bare Western Shore (although there are some mighty fine towns along that same coast), here characterization of Newfoundlanders is very 'look-down-your-nose' - they are all rustic, and seem never to have seen any modern convieniences, and are second kin to the McCoys of the American Ozarks. When, in the movie, Quoyle confronts the Old Qouyle who has been cursing the house, we can almost hear the banjo from "Deliverance"; when they actually show Guy raping Agnes (a needless scene - we know he does it, the guy just told us. It serves no purpose...), I imagines the movies title to be "Deliverance II: The Newfoundland Connection"
This is the biggest problem I have; in the book, there is a line "Incest is a way of life in Newfoundland." and in the movie when Quoyle discovers his grandfather was 12 when he died, and Agnes says "You don't know Newfoundlanders." These strike me a the sort of thing Mainlanders have been saying about Newfoundlanders for years. The book was written, after all, by an American...
The movie itself is a good movie. Kevin Spacey (my favorite actor of all), turns in a good performance, not a great one, though he gets Quoyle just about spot on if you cut away all the parts about how fat Quoyle is and he is 10 times more insecure than Spacey portrays him, but maybe thats a problem of script. Dame Judi Dench gives a marvelous portrayal of Agnes, and the staff of the Gammy Bird one and all are spot on perfect in their roles. Dench, Scott Glenn as Jack Buggit, Pete Postlethwaite (one of the best character actors around) as Tert Card, and the Welsh guy as one of the best characters Nutbeem, and the best guy in the movie, maybe because he's from Newfoundland, Gordon Pinsent as Billy Pretty. Cate Blanchett is also remarkable as Petal.
I voted 8 out of 10 - good, not great. Lord of the Rings will take Best Picture and best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director, but Dench my get Best Actress, and Gordon Pinsent deserves a nod for Best Supporting Actor.
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