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The Shipping News

Robyn Morrison reviews The Shipping News, a romantic drama based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by E. Annie Proulx

It has been 10 years since The Shipping News was released in cinemas around the country, but for those thinking of staying indoors, avoiding the April showers and watching a good old-fashioned romantic drama, this is certainly worth a look.

Directed by Lasse Hallström, the film was nominated for a whole host of awards, including a BAFTA and a Golden Globe, and stars an impressive cast of Kevin Spacey, Julianne Moore, Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench, to name a few. Kevin Spacey stars as Quoyle, a man who has throughout his life been a self-confessed ‘loser’, most notably to his father who sees him as nothing but a disappointment. As a result of this neglect, he falls in love with the first person to ever ‘notice him’- an emotionally abusive and promiscuous woman named Petal (Cate Blanchett).

Quoyle’s wretched marriage to Petal ends when she is killed in a car crash while running away with another man – a blessing in disguise. Shortly afterwards, his parents commit suicide, leaving him to pick up the pieces of a broken life, while looking his young daughter, Bunny, alone.

After a visit from his long-lost Aunt Agnis (Judi Dench), Quoyle is persuaded to return to his ancestral home of Newfoundland, where he starts a new life as a journalist for the local newspaper, ‘The Gammy
Bird’.

While at first he struggles with the new surroundings, most notably overcoming his fear of drowning to report the shipping news, Quoyle soon begins to receive local acclaim for his journalistic talents and starts to rebuild his life. He strikes a friendship with the local school teacher (Julianne Moore), a single mother, whose husband is suspected to have drowned at sea, and they soon fall in love.

However, things are not as rosy as they seem. As Quoyle begins to unravel the dark history of his ancestors, he discovers that his family and his new love interest are all hiding secrets.