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THE SHIPPING NEWS

Playing against type, Kevin Spacey is a nerdy, submissive widowed father--a loser's loser--in the film version of Annie Proulx's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.


(Now in stores)


CAST: Kevin Spacey, Julianne Moore, Judi Dench, Scott Glenn, Rhys Ifans, Pete Postlethwaite, Cate Blanchett

DIRECTOR: Lasse Hallstrom


"It won the Pulitzer Prize. It must be a wonderful book. But the movie made from it is relentlessly colorful and cute, until you wonder if the characters stayed up late inventing quirky dialogue and thinking of peculiar behavior they can cultivate...I liked the feeling of community in the town, the palpable sense of place. But, lord, the characters are tireless in their peculiarities; it's as if the movie took the most colorful folks in Lake Wobegon, dehydrated them, concentrated the granules, shipped them to Newfoundland, reconstituted them with Molson's and issued them Canadian passports." --Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"...it fails to deliver the essence of Ms. Proulx's novel, which is the odyssey of an ugly, beaten-down outsider...The difference between Ms. Proulx's salty, tragicomic book, and Mr. Hallstrom's impressionistic gloss, is in a nutshell the difference between the author's description of the hapless protagonist, Quoyle, and Kevin Spacey's warm and fuzzy portrait of this character...We are aware at all times that the star is acting with a capital A, suppressing his natural inclination toward intellectual sarcasm to project the saintly, victimized pathos of a well-meaning idiot savant...The final product is soft at the center, a rustic cinematic greeting card...Instead of giving you the book, it leaves you with the unfulfilled sense of having leafed through an elegant, studiously captioned photo essay of the same material." --Stephen Holden, The New York Times

"It's easier to respect than to love a movie almost totally lacking in conventional dramatic conflict, with almost all the characters seeming in dire need of antidepressants. Spacey, who added 20 pounds for the role, plays totally against type as Quoyle, an inarticulate and rather passive ink-setter at a newspaper in Poughkeepsie...the film consists mostly of loosely connected anecdotes that are doubtlessly more effective on the page than in this lethargically paced film...Spacey doesn't really connect with Moore or the young actresses playing his daughter--but then, this is a movie where nobody really connects..." -- Lou Lumenick, The New York Post

"... the movie has a modest but true feeling for the ways in which people are formed by the ravages of their natural surroundings. Kevin Spacey plays (rather too reticently) the damaged, sullen Quoyle, an outcast among outcasts who ventures with his daughter to his ancestral homeland and becomes entwined in the community." --Peter Rainer, New York

"... it fails to come together...Part of the problem lies in Spacey's character and performance...though Spacey has put on 20 pounds for the role, it isn't enough. He's still too light and he seems to be compensating by giving a thick, lugubrious performance....the hangdog look and sloggy rhythms Spacey affects not only weigh him down, but the movie as well. And they kill stone dead the love scenes with the usually superb Julianne Moore" --Michael Wilmington, The Chicago Tribune

"With Kevin Spacey miscast as the oafish Quoyle, 'Shipping News' follows 'The Cider House Rules' and 'Chocolat' as the latest installment in director Lasse Hallstrom's apparently endless series of unconvincingly life-affirming productions. 'Shipping News' also follows its predecessors in its zeal to reduce complex literary material to predictable, audience-friendly elements." --Kenneth Turan, The Los Angeles Times

"Director Lasse Hallstrom captures the landscape's stark, stormy beauty as well as its impact on its people...Moore and Spacey's affair doesn't throw off a lot of heat. That's okay, because they have been hurt before, and they have to trust before they can love. Blanchett, on the other hand, is as steamy as a sauna, and what a convincing witch she makes, too...It's worth seeing at the very least because it is so different from standard Hollywood fare." --Rita Kempley, The Washington Post