Director Lasse Hallstrom may have found success with movies such as “Chocolat,” “The Cider House Rules,” and “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” yet his new film “The Shipping News” fails to deliver. With a dull plot and little action in writer Robert Nelson Jacobs’ (“Chocolat”) adaption, this slow-paced remake of Anne Proulx’s 1993 Pulitzer Prize winning novel re-defines the phrase, “the book was better than the movie.”
Quoyle (Kevin Spacey) is an ink setter from New York with a less than promising future. He follows a long lost aunt (Judi Dench) with daughter Bunny (triplet sisters Alyssa, Kaitlyn & Lauren Garnier) to the home of his ancestors in Newfoundland after his wife Petal’s (Cate Blanchette) death.
While in the fishing-village set Newfoundland, Quoyle and his daughter Bunny’s lives slowly start to improve with newfound friendship of local Wavey Prowse (Julianne Moore), also a widower. Quoyle also finds success as a Shipping News columnist for the local newspaper.
The movie is at many times heavy and controversial, with topics ranging from death and suicide to rape and incest, yet it is worth seeing for Spacey, Dench and Moore’s acting. Both Spacey and Dench both give stunning performances while Spacey easily shines even when the film does not. Quoyle’s slow yet kindhearted demeanor is portrayed perfectly against Dench’s curt and abrupt presentation of his aunt Agnes Hamm. Co-starring in the film are Rhys Ifans (“Little Nicky,” “Notting Hill”) as Beaufield Nutbeem and Scott Glenn (“The Virgin Suicides,” “The Silence of the Lambs”) as Jack Buggit.
The picturesque setting of Newfoundland, Canada also serves as a breath-taking backdrop.
Although the film is flawed with hanging and choppy subplots, slow paced scenes, and a few bad accents, it is worth seeing if you are a fan of either the Oscar-winner Spacey or Dench.