The Shipping News - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Shipping News Reviews

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½ April 3, 2017
O.K. Pleasant enough. Certainly not as bad as critics were making it out to be. Certainly better than book. Still don't see what anyone saw in the story. Just doesn't go anywhere.
February 21, 2017
Desolate forgiveness.
December 22, 2016
A mysterious and quirky story of a beaten man trying to heal. Incredible cast. The story flows from haunting and secretive to tender and revealing. A good add to a wintertime movie watchlist.
April 16, 2016
I have always been confused by some of the negative reviews of this film. Maybe if you'd read the book, the film could have disappointed. I have not read the book and this film is one of my all time favorites.
January 17, 2016
If a piece of knotted string can unleash the wind, a drowned man can awaken, then a broken man can heal. Headlines: A deadly storm takes a house, leaves excellent view. A provincial small town by the Newfoundland coast and the dark sordid past of pirate raids and incestuous scandals hanging over the Quale descendants gave us this oxymoronic dark yet quaint tale. What began and for most part, a pessimistic tale would end on a positive note of hope and new beginnings. A very impressive cast of excellent actors with Kevin Spacey, Judi Dench, Julianne Moore, Cate Blanchett and Scott Glen. Need I say more?
January 17, 2016
En provinsiell småby ved Newfoundland kysten og den mørke fortiden av pirater og incestuøse skandaler hengende over Quale etterkommere ga oss denne mørk men likevel sjarmerende fortelling. Det som begynte g for meste, vil en pessimistisk fortelling avslutte på en positiv tone av håp og ny begynnelse. Det er fremdeles så mye at Kevin skjønner ikke. Men, hvis et snøre med knuter kan slippe løs vinden, og hvis en druknet mann kan våkne, da tror Kevin at en ødelagt mann kan leges. Overskrift- Dødelig storm tar hus. Etterlater flott utsikt. Meget imponerende cast av gode skuespillere med Kevin Spacey, Judi Dench, Julianne Moore, Cate Blanchett og Scott Glen. Trenger jeg si mer?
January 16, 2016
Very Interesting. The main character is a very pathetic man with no backbone but over all an excellent story. Very unique and captivating.
½ January 16, 2016
more movies about/set in newfoundland!
November 26, 2015
Spacey perfects another "American Beauty" type character arc of a protagonist who, in desperation, radically alters his circumstance, eventually succeeding in finding a place and people with whom to thrive.
July 22, 2015
I agree with the "critics consensus" on Rotten Tomatoes. I would only add that it's not the best from any of the primary actors -- Blanchett excepted, who is a stand-out and steals every scene she is in. Also, Spacey's character is almost too dull to believe that he (spoiler alert) unexpectedly becomes a great writer. Could've been a great picture if handled a bit differently.
½ June 10, 2015
Great looking,finely acted dull tooth pull.
½ June 6, 2015
I just watched this movie and really liked it. Good clean movie, less than typical story.. Beautiful and mysterious scenery. A good watch that keeps your interest
½ February 16, 2015
well crafted rom-dram from the guy who did 'cinder house rules"
September 22, 2014
A delightful distraction.
September 17, 2014
I think a major issue is the casting. Judi Dench is perhaps the one exception. She fits perfectly into her role, much different from her usual roles. Cate Blanchett is great as she always is, but I think her talents would have been better suited in Julianne Moore's role. In fact, they should be switched. Kevin Spacey does what he can with Quoyle, but ultimately Quoyle's inner resilience didn't quite come out for me like it did in the book. In the end, reading the book is far more invigorating than watching the film, which is rather dry and never really effective.
½ August 14, 2014
Not a bulls eye pretty pretty good! Stuck to the book pretty well..very good soundtrack! Can't help but think this would have been the perfect book for the Coen Brothers to turn into a movie!
August 7, 2014
I watched this at home so many times, I can't count. The professional reviewers who wrote it off obviously missed the essence of it. Many layers here. Every time I watch it I glean something else from it. One of my favorites of all time.
½ July 19, 2014
There are very strong performances throughout this movie.
½ April 17, 2014
Pretty boring but, the performances were quite strong.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
½ March 30, 2014
Clearly this film isn't about ordering stuff online, because I don't know about you, but I wouldn't trust a package tracker to give me accurate shipping news that much more than I'd trust the tabloids to give me any kind of accurate news. I'd stare that you can cue the snare drum, but that joke was admittedly so lame that I really wouldn't trust people with sticks that they could use to either play a snare drum or beat me. Seriously though, folks, this film is actually about a reporter traveling to another country and finding love, as well as himself, as he finds new inspiration in a new land, and no, I can't believe they've allowed that specific type of story to become clichéd either. Well, I reckon a story is officially clichéd once Lasse Hallström interprets it, because as much as I like a fair deal of Hallström's films, he has a tradition of taking on stories that are perhaps too traditional for their own good, and make no mistake, this is definitely a traditional Lasse Hallström film. Speaking of surprising clichés, Hallström's project picking seems to be heavily based on which story has the silliest character names, although that might simply be because he's Swedish. Nevertheless, if you thought that Grape made for a weird surname in "What's Eating Gilbert Grape", here you've got Kevin Spacey as Quoyle, Judi Dench as Agnis Hamm, Cate Blanchett as Petal, Pete Postlethwaite as Tert Card, and, of course, Julianne Moore as Wavey Prowse, with a small appearance by Rhys Ifans as Beaufield Nutbeem. Well, to be fair, a lot of this film's characters are Irish something fierce, but that doesn't make the film any less decent, as opposed to certain other aspects.

Lasse Hallström always had a taste in drama's with plenty of lighthearted elements, but with this film, he really lets the tightness of his grip on tonal dynamicity slip, as plenty of lighter, almost comedic aspects go punctuated a touch too firmly by dramatic, maybe even tense highlights, resulting in near-glaring tonal inconsistencies that are much more recurring than they should be, and shake tonal impact, with the help of something of a consistency heavy-handedness. Colorfully drawn enough for you to bond reasonably comfortably with the characters and this narrative, this story is still questionably drawn, even with its characterization, which goes plagued with overblown character traits and plot happenings that are sometimes too far-fetched to buy into, particularly when they touch the film's more dramatic and thematic elements, thinning subtlety to a considerable degree. The film has been criticized as rather heavy-handed in its script, and yes, I do indeed agree, and Hallström's role in the storytelling doesn't exactly make things any more realized, as it sometimes takes on the director's trademark atmospheric sentimentality to make the scripted histrionics all the more glaring. Of course, when Hallström signature sentimentality doesn't kick in as a plague on intrigue, he's plaguing intrigue with his signature atmospheric cold spells, established through a certain quiet thoughtfulness that is usually easier to get past in Hallström's other, more entertaining dry efforts, but actually kind of dulling here. For this, we have to place yet more blame on screenwriter Robert Nelson Jacobs, whose efforts are plenty of clever, but not exactly consistent with the material that Hallström usually draws on with his dry directorial thoughtfulness, going bloated with aimless filler and even excess material that bloats the narrative to an unfocused point whose aimlessness only grows more and more distancing the more storytelling meanders. The film starts out pretty promising as yet another thoroughly endearing effort by Hallström, but once it gets going, it goes too slow for comfort, gradually losing momentum under the weight of aimlessness, unevenness and heavy-handedness, until the final product finds itself wearing pretty deeply into underwhelmingness. The film falls quite a distance shy of what it could have been, yet what it ultimately is is an endearing dramedy, even stylistically speaking.

Composed by the popular Christopher Young, this film's score, when actually played upon, is usually a touch too minimalist to be all that exciting, and when it does pick up, it falls into conventions, yet there's still something very tasteful about Young's atmospheric, somewhat celtic styles, which capture the drly colorful tone of the film about as much as often flat, but just as often nifty cinematography. Even style kind of loses momentum after a while, possibly because it's never truly outstanding enough for you to not gradually get used to it, but there's no denying that there is aesthetic appeal to draw you in, even if it's not as important of a compliment to the themes of this near-grimy dramedy as, say, the script. Robert Nelson Jacobs' script is instrumental in bringing about the film's downfall into underwhelmingness, because where Lasse Hallström's direction, at least at this point, was usually met with enough material for his thoughtfulness and sentimentality to be generally pretty effective, tonal and narrative structuring issues to Jacobs' efforts go a long way in defusing the final product's momentum, and yet, there's still plenty of wit to endear you to the script, which is at its most endearing when it's at its most realized with characterization. Needless to say, when these highlights in material kick in, that's where highlights in Hallström's direction comes in, with pacing and sentimental thoughtfulness that, upon finding material to draw upon, compels as a punctuation to a reasonable degree of entertainment value which Hallström establishes through subtle plays on style and wit. I'm not saying that this film's story is all that meaty, but there's still something missing out of the interpretation of this traditional tale regarding finding new depths in yourself in a new setting, and yet, when inspiration meets ambition, the film endears as a light character study, anchored by worthy character portrayals. Once again, Hallström assembles a solid cast of respectable talents, every one of whom has only so much to work with, but delivers nonetheless, at least on charisma, particularly within Judi Dench, Julianne Moore, the quickly dismissed Cate Blanchett, and, of course, leading man Kevin Spacey, whose trademark subdued charm, while too formulaic as part of a Kevin Spacey performance, is open enough for Spacey to serve as an audience avatar, but tight enough to make Spacey an endearing lead by his own right, especially when occasions of actually pretty powerful emoting kick in. I don't know if this film can afford to have all that subdued of a lead, as most everything else is too subdued for its own good, yet just as Spacey practically compels with his quiet charm, Hallström endears with his own somber charm, which is realized enough to entertain adequately, with dramatic highlights, however limited they may be.

Once the docks are reached, the final product sinks into underwhelmingness under the weight of tonal unevenness, heavy-handedness, a certain atmospheric coldness, and much meandering plotting, but through a tasteful score and visual style, clever writing, thoughtful direction and charismatic performances, "The Shipping News" charms as a fair and sometimes effective, if rather forgettable affair.

2.5/5 - Fair
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