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 scenes in which Quoyle (Kevin Spacey) is in the water were filmed at a tank in St. John's, Newfoundland (normally used for testing boats and marine technology). The tank, which normally contains cold Atlantic sea water, had to be specially filled with warm water for Spacey's comfort. See more »
The headless body apparently disappears from the water in the short time it takes Quoyle to swim to the cooler. 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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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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