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68 out of 76 people found the following review useful:

Spacey and Hallstrom shine in a moving story

9/10
Author: FlickJunkie-2 from Atlanta, GA
18 July 2002

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.

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52 out of 53 people found the following review useful:

stunning

7/10
Author: blanche-2 from United States
29 January 2002

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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63 out of 80 people found the following review useful:

A beautiful portrait of human emotions and reactions

10/10
Author: Hannibal Lecter from Baltimore, Maryland
13 July 2002



Often when watching a film with a cast which has more Oscar nominations in their careers than the film has minutes, a level of expectations will be engraved which exceeds far above a film than which one should. Such is an example with the poignant, touching and often funny film, The Shipping News.

The Shipping News is film about loss, recovery, pain, but most of all, recovery. When a person loses a loved one, or in this case, a person who loses someone they think they love, it comes with a package of emotional stress and remorse. The person they lose is immortalized within their thoughts, usually in a positive, memorable perspective.

The story begins with a narration by Quoyle (Spacey), and through this depressing and self defeating narration, we learn that Quoyle is man who has never succeeded in anything, is a failure in his family's eyes, and has never accomplished one thing in his entire life. He struggles through every miserable task he is given, he aches at the thought of one more day.

As a defeated man who has never loved, never laughed, and never succeeded, he is desperate for something, desperate for someone. When he meets a woman named Petal (Blanchett) he thinks he's in love. We see a woman who is looking for a costumer, looking for someone to spend the night with. Quoyle sees a wife, someone to spend the rest of his life with. So without hesitation, he takes a swing at this wild tiger. He thinks he has achieved that echelon of happiness. He has a darling little girl, he has a wife, and he has a steady job. But he soon learns that one person, a person he has known for little over a few years, can turn his life upside down. After a realistic and inevitable chain of events, he is back to his pitiful little life. Only this time, he's lost more than he can handle. His own emotional attachments have become his own emotional destruction.

In the midst of these happenings, Quoyle is met at the door by his Aunt Agnis (Dench), whom he has never met. She suggests they begin a new future, for she too has lost something. She decides that they should travel to their native roots, in Newfoundland. The future looks bleak to Quoyle, but only the happiest of times look ahead to Agnis. At least from our perspective.

Throughout the film we are met by several supporting characters played by familiar and not so familiar actors. These characters, while they may seem supporting, play the largest part in the film. For these characters are the building blocks which help Quoyle begin his `transformation'. These are the people which help Quoyle recognize his roots and why he must belong there. Throughout these characters, we are met with many intertwining storylines which could make a whole entire film by themselves. But these characters are all here to help one man find a reason. A reason for being.

Throughout this masterful tale of loss, recovery, and pain, we discover that problems exist within problems. We learn that the future may result in failure, but will always have an answer. The answer lies within Quoyle himself. While these supporting players may have an impact on Quoyle's job and home, Quoyle is the only one who can help find happiness for himself.

With a star-studded cast which shines with the inspiring score by Christopher Young, Lasse Hallstrom has created a film which should not be overlooked, but should be look upon as a film which displays how courage, love, and faith, can overcome loss, struggle, and pain.

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26 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

New Wind Sweeps Clean

8/10
Author: Robert J. Maxwell (rmax304823@yahoo.com) from Deming, New Mexico, USA
7 December 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

SPOILERS.

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.

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25 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

Actually a pretty good movie

7/10
Author: HunterDK (pc@person.dk) from Denmark
18 October 2003

I had seen the good rating of Shipping News before I watched it, and I would like to give it a shot.

Lasse Hallström did a good job when he directed The Cider House Rules, and Kevin Spacey is of course a good actor with movies like The Usual Suspects, LA Confidential and K-Pax. Furthermore we got supporting actresses such as the lovely Julianne Moore and talented Cate Blanchett, it was promising.

The movie is mostly a drama, but it succeeds in giving the audience some laughs when needed, which is important to me. Dramas can be too depressing sometimes, but it is of course sometimes needed to make a statement. Anyway, it is not needed in Shipping News and Lasse Hallström understands this very well.

The acting is great, the stars I mentioned earlier deliver good performances, but we also get the pleasure to watch other good actors too, so the cast really gives us a good movie.

Actually there are mainly positive things to say about this movie, the picture quality was good and the environment at Newfoundland created a good atmosphere. The only thing I would critisise is that the movie maybe could have been a bit longer, there were a few issues that I would like to have seen sorted out.

I have rated this movie 7/10, but it maybe deserved a little more. It is definitely worth watching.

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20 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

The scenery is the real star of this movie.....

8/10
Author: Brigid O Sullivan (wisewebwoman) from Toronto, Canada
15 March 2002

I am a tremendous fan of the book and read it twice. I sense the movie missed the point here. Kevin Spacey does an admirable job with the difficult role of Quoyle, he is shot from strange angles to emphasize a height and width that is not there in real life. I had envisioned Gerard Depardieu in the role, big, hulking and awkward. I note also that one of the daughters was dropped from the movie, there are two in the book. Judi Dench's performance is incredible and her tough almost fatalistic Newfoundland character feels real. Moore is a disappointment, far too beautiful for the role and not as mysterious as depicted in the book. The scenery is incredible, wild and isolated. I enjoyed the soundtrack and the minor characters, all very well acted. I gave it an 8 out of 10 for the fabulous cinematography and Judi Dench.

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14 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Extraordinary adaptation of a brilliant novel

10/10
Author: denaka from Boston, Massachusetts, USA
26 December 2002

Having read the brilliant and seamless novel - and believing that movie adaptations of novels rarely succeed - I did not expect to like this movie. Much to my surprise, I found the film totally successful. Kevin Spacey - who seemed to be an odd choice for the role - is perfect as Coyle, capturing the true spirit of the character and proving himself to be one of the finest movie actors of his generation. Judi Dench is, as always, just right. Julianne Moore (I was not previously familiar with her work) is astonishing. The look of the movie...the tone...the screenplay all work - as an adaptation of the novel and as a film unto itself. I do not understand why this movie did not garner more recognition. I strongly recommend it to those who have read the novel and those who have yet to experience Annie Proulx remarkable prose.

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16 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

superbly non-Hollywood

9/10
Author: Tim Johnson from Fremantle, Australia
10 February 2002

I was very impressed with The Shipping News for several reasons: the location should win an Oscar alone, Hallstrom's magical minimalist direction and the acting by the major leads and perhaps even more wonderful, by the many minor parts, were outstanding.

The beauty of the story, involving as it does many all-to-familiar dramas that are easily recognized by people anywhere, was used as a springboard to explore a little known area of the world and to bring much needed illumination on rarely discussed social problems.

To actually see such a beautiful movie shot on location in the magnificent surrounds of Newfoundland should lead film makers away from the sterility of southern California and the too-used streets of New York. I guess I've had my fill of movies about what Hollywood has been dishing out and I've gotten thoroughly jaded with virtually everything made by them.

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33 out of 56 people found the following review useful:

The Shipping News is remarkable, stupendous, brilliant, witty and heart warming.

Author: emilyblunt from Los Angeles
23 December 2001

Headline:The Shipping News sweeps all awards for 2002, the moviegoers cheer, and Spacey and cast snag a round of Oscars.

The Shipping News is about one man discovering himself when he wasn't even looking; when he's all but just given up.

Those familiar with 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 known for disappearing into their roles, and with the combination of Proulx's perfect characters (misfits) the actors seemed engulfed.

Quoyle (Kevin-- clearing a spot for a few award trinkets as we speak- 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…

His life takes a few dramatic turns as we meet him. His gallivanting wife Petal (Cate Blanchett) has absconded with their young daughter Bunny and his parents have done something equally dramatic. 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.

He's got nothing to lose so follows her 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.

He 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 experiencing a newfound meaning to life (his life especially)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 mundane life.

He also meets an equally sad and sullen gal named Wavey (Julianne "Best Actress 2002" Moore). She' s a widow who wears her heart on her sleeve and is weary of starting any new romances. Poor Quoyle.

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?

The 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 a masterpiece. The award shows are going to be quite redundant this year... A Beautiful Mind and its wonderful cast and performances will be The Shipping News' only competition in the BIG 3 categories - for sure.

Spacey (whom I adore to the point of actually being speechless in front of), brings us, perhaps, his finest performance to date in Quoyle (pronounced coil). 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 I'm surprised…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!

Why's 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…yeah. Disagree? Get your own review. K-PAX aside, his work always brilliant, intense, or funny, or light…it's 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 here. Sorry, Russell, your also grand and one helluva actor, but your "butt" has been elegantly drop kicked by Cadet Fowler for the mad mad race for Oscar…

Judi Dench is, as always, an inspiration on film.

Julianne 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.

Cate "I'm in every movie on the marquee this winter" Blanchett is a chameleon- somebody check her body temperature and dining habits! As Quale's rude, nasty, sluty bimbette squared love interest, Petal, she makes you loath her within the first forty-eight frames.

Petal 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."

Pete "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 and 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.

Director, Lasse Hallstrom (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.

There's 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… I feel bad for Ron Howard. He finally gets a nod or two and he has to be up against this film.

Snack recommendation: Plain Donuts, fried octopus tentacle sandwiches and tea

Headline: The Shipping News looms over small cinema. Crowds, hearing the buzz, rush to see it opening day! The masses exclaim:" for once a film is better than its hype."

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) the names will come gloriously into the light. Trust me.

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Comments from The Maritimes - Good, but flawed.

4/10
Author: Brian Crocker (Prophet1-2) from Halifax, Nova Scotia
28 December 2001

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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