The Shipping News (2001)

Starring: Kevin Spacey, Julianne Moore, Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett, Gordon Pinsent, Pete Postelthwaite, Scott Glenn, Rhys Ifans

Directed by: Lasse Hallström

R. 111 mins.

Based on the Pulitzer-Prize winning novel by E. Annie Proulx, The Shipping News carefully explores how one’s environment is central to character development. The story follows Quoyle (Kevin Spacey), a depressed journalist who spends years in an emotionally abusive relationship with the reckless Petal (Cate Blanchett). They have a child together, Bunny, and when Petal is killed in a car crash Quoyle decides that it’s time to discover his ancestral roots along with his young daughter. They travel to Newfoundland and stay with his long-lost Aunt Agnis (Judi Dench) who helps them adjust to island life and tells stories of the past. It’s clear that Hallström has an eye for atmosphere with an interest in history and legend, which is only natural given his previous films (Chocolat, The Cider House Rules). This isn’t his best work but the steely pallet and dedicated cast create a touching story of redemption that will feel just like home to any Maritimers out there – * * * 1/2

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