The Shipping News (2001)

Genres - Drama, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Drama  |   Release Date - Dec 25, 2001 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 112 min.  |   Countries - Canada , United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Director Lasse Hallström continues to explore eccentric families with this adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by E. Annie Proulx. Unlike Hallström's previous adaptations of The Cider House Rules (1999) and Chocolat (2000), the director this time tackles a dense, emotionally complicated work that translates somewhat haphazardly to the screen. While Kevin Spacey and Judi Dench inhabit their respective roles splendidly, the script by Robert Nelson Jacobs struggles to include all of the source material's meandering plot, leaving some story threads dangling. The fun bits in the novel also work well in the film: these almost all involve the growth of Spacey's character Quoyle into a gifted newspaper reporter and his interactions with the idiosyncratic staff of that publication. The Newfoundland locations are captured gracefully by cinematographer Oliver Stapleton, but the overall effect is one of mild disappointment in comparison to the filmmaker's previously full-bodied, emotionally satisfying cinematic forays. Modern cineastes are accustomed by now to the book being better than the movie, so they won't be surprised to find The Shipping News (2001) visibly pale in comparison to its literary progenitor.