Volume 95, Issue 58

Wednesday, January 16, 2002
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The Shipping News: warm fuzzies in Newfoundland

Local band shares bright outlook

Rock icon Simmons' book: KISS and made-up?

Outside the Box

The Shipping News: warm fuzzies in Newfoundland

Gazette File Photo
The Shipping News

Kevin Spacey, Judi Dench, Julianne Moore

Directed By: Lasse Hallstrom

Three 1/2 stars (out of five)

By David Hudakoc
Gazette Staff

You are a lost soul trying to find your place in the world – a place where you are loved, respected and happy. Quite simply, you are looking for a peaceful place to call home.

Everyday seems to be a step towards finding this place. Yet, in the end, this is all an illusion. Whether or not you have searched long and hard for this happiness, true happiness and love in this world cannot be found. The truth is, for a lonely soul, even home cannot be found – it simply finds you.

The Shipping News – a film based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by E. Annie Proulx – follows the life of the insecure and vulnerable Quoyle (Kevin Spacey) as he tries to find happiness for himself and his daughter Bunny, following the death of Quoyle's former girlfriend, Petal (Cate Blanchett).

Petal's death leaves Quoyle clueless and scared, but he is saved when his Aunt Agnis (Judi Dench) takes him to his father's home in Newfoundland.

In this family home, Quoyle comes to realize the troubles he has experienced have lead him to a new life. When he is given the opportunity to write for the town newspaper, the happiness missing from Quoyle's life finally finds him.

Spacey's performance as Quoyle is exceptional. He portrays his character with the insecurity and lack of confidence that made The Shipping News such an award-winning novel. But Spacey is not the only bright spot in this film.

Judi Dench's performance as Aunt Agnis is also extraordinary. She brings the mystery and secrecy of her character to the screen with ease.

Furthermore, the performances of the supporting cast are excellent. Julianne Moore, Scott Glenn and Newfoundland film icon Gordon Pinset give this story the character it needs to keep the audience's attention. After all, a film about life in Newfoundland can only be so captivating.

The one problem with casting such stars is Hollywood seems to have taken Proulx's novel and attempted to make it a commercial success. By taking on the likes of Kevin Spacey, Julianne Moore and others, producer Irwin Winkler took away the true insecurities of all the characters by simply having them portrayed by good-looking people.

However, despite this and a few too many jokes about Canadian weather, The Shipping News is still able to bring this story to life by way of a big-budget Hollywood film. Moreover, the cinematography by director Lasse Hallstršm gives Canadians something to be proud of as the landscapes and backgrounds in this film are truly breathtaking.

If you haven't read E. Annie Proulx's novel, The Shipping News may be misunderstood as a film. But, if you follow closely, it can be quite enjoyable. It's a story about finding your place in the world, about feeling invisible your entire life and finally being noticed.

The Shipping News may not be a film to rush out and see. But it is a film that, if you do watch, you should sit back and appreciate the story told. It reminds us all that although there may be small towns in this world, there are no small lives.

And it reminds us that happiness, peace and a home can find you in the strangest of places.

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