The Shipping News (2001)

R  |   |  Drama  |  18 January 2002 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 27,503 users   Metascore: 47/100
Reviews: 207 user | 119 critic | 31 from

An emotionally-beaten man with his young daughter moves to his ancestral home in Newfoundland to reclaim his life.



(based on the novel by) (as E. Annie Proulx) , (screenplay)
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Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 2 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Agnis Hamm
Beaufield Nutbeem
Dennis Buggit
Bayonet Melville
Silver Melville
Alyssa Gainer ...
Bunny Quoyle
Kaitlyn Gainer ...
Bunny Quoyle
Lauren Gainer ...
Bunny Quoyle


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Dive Beneath The Surface See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some language, sexuality and disturbing images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

18 January 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Atando cabos  »

Box Office


$35,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$318,502 (USA) (21 December 2001)


$166,081 (Brazil) (10 January 2003)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


John Travolta at one time was attached to star, along with his wife, Kelly Preston. Later, Billy Bob Thornton was also linked with the project. See more »


When Quoyle orders the same squid burger that Nutbeem has there is a shot of the two with a waitress in blue crossing the shot from right to left. The next shot is of Quoyle with the waitress behind him serving coffee. The next shot shows Quoyle and Nutbeem and the waitress crosses the shot from left to right. The next shot is of Quoyle once again, but the waitress is still behind him serving coffee. See more »


[first lines]
Quoyle: [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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References The Shining (1980) See more »


The Jolly Butcher
Arranged by Sean McCann, Alan Doyle, Bob Hallett (as Robert Hallett) & Darrell Power
Performed by Great Big Sea
Courtesy of Warner Music Canada
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User Reviews

Spacey and Hallstrom shine in a moving story
18 July 2002 | by (Atlanta, GA) – See all my reviews

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.

77 of 85 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Anyone notice any clue of Canada..? Angus-8
A Newfoundlander's opinion Tone303
Does Agnes pour Quoyle's dad down the toilet? marniecunningham344
Why was this not better? ftmpc
book babebdoll630
Spacey's poor performance - compare to 'Henry Fool' and 'Heavy' fentress
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