The Shipping News (film)

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The Shipping News
The Shipping News film.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Lasse Hallström
Produced by Rob Cowan
Leslie Holleran
Irwin Winkler
Screenplay by Robert Nelson Jacobs
Based on The Shipping News
by Annie Proulx
Starring Kevin Spacey
Julianne Moore
Judi Dench
Cate Blanchett
Music by Christopher Young
Cinematography Oliver Stapleton
Edited by Andrew Mondshein
Distributed by Miramax Films
Release date
  • December 18, 2001 (2001-12-18)
Running time
111 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $38 million
Box office $24,690,441

The Shipping News is a 2001 drama film directed by Lasse Hallström, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Shipping News by Annie Proulx.

It stars Kevin Spacey as Quoyle, Judi Dench as Agnis Hamm, and Julianne Moore as Wavey Prowse. It also stars Cate Blanchett, Pete Postlethwaite, Scott Glenn, Rhys Ifans, Jason Behr, and Gordon Pinsent.


The film opens with Quoyle's father tossing him into water, expecting him to naturally swim. The image of Quoyle struggling to swim is reprised several times in later crises.[citation needed]

Flash forward to an adult Quoyle (Kevin Spacey), who lives a lonely life and works as an inksetter in a small newspaper in Poughkeepsie, New York. He becomes infatuated with a vivacious local woman named Petal (Cate Blanchett), marrying her and having a daughter they name Bunny. Six years later, the emotionally distant and promiscuous Petal runs off with a lover and Bunny, only to die soon after in a car accident. Bunny is returned by the police to Quoyle, who tell him that Petal had sold their daughter off for US$6,000 to an illegal adoption agency. Only days before Quoyle had received the news that his ailing parents killed one another in a suicide pact. After collecting their ashes, Quoyle's aunt Agnis (Judi Dench) arrives wishing to pay her respects to her brother. Agnis is moving to the ancestral family home in Newfoundland, which has been abandoned for 44 years. Realizing that Quoyle is at a total loss through grief, she first offers to stay a few more days and help him through the crisis, and then persuades him to move with her.[citation needed]

While struggling to rebuild his life, fix up the derelict house, and care for his daughter, Quoyle meets local resident Wavey Prowse (Julianne Moore), a widow who has a pre-teen boy with a learning disability. Wavey's son and Quoyle's daughter become friends, while the two adults become friends, and then more. Wavey has dark secrets in her past, but so does the Quoyle family.[citation needed]

To support himself and his daughter, Quoyle takes a job at the local newspaper Gammy Bird as the "Shipping News" correspondent, covering shipping traffic in town, as well as local car crashes. With no experience in journalism, Quoyle struggles to produce decent articles and incurs the dislike of the newspaper's second in command, Tert Card (Pete Postlethwaite). An article Quoyle writes about a millionaire's yacht docked in town, however, becomes a great success with readers, and the Gammy Bird's editor Jack Buggit is so impressed that he commissions him to write a series of articles profiling boats and the personal history of their owners.[citation needed]

The story climaxes with a storm that destroys the Quoyle home, and Jack, caught in the rope of a lobster pot while fishing, is believed drowned. His body is recovered, appears to be dead, but is actually in a deep state of shock resulting from hypothermia. During his wake, at his home in front of mourners, he regains consciousness.[citation needed]



The film, while broadly following the plot of the book, makes several changes; notably, Quoyle was obese and had two daughters in the novel, but only one in the film. He's only a timid ink setter in the film and he does not begin writing as a brave reporter until after arriving in Newfoundland. Another difference is that several characters, such as the younger Buggit family, were deleted or merged.

The film was originally to be directed by Fred Schepisi, with John Travolta in lead male role.[1]

Quoyle Point and Killick-Claw[edit]

Quoyle Point is a fictional point of land on the Newfoundland coast bearing the family name of the protagonist in both the book and the movie. The actual town used for "Killick-Claw" in the movie was New Bonaventure in the Trinity Bight area of Newfoundland. This area is home to approximately 2,000 Newfoundlanders, most of whom are descendants of 18th-century settlers from England's West Country, the Channel Islands, and Southeast Ireland.

In the movie, Quoyle Point is a remote, spectacular site with a cove and dramatic cliffs. There is a desolate, weathered green house on the point, the old family home of the Quoyles. At some time in the past, the house had been dragged across the sea-ice from a neighboring island and cabled to the ground at the four corners to protect it from being blown away.

The film crew pre-built the green house on a stage in Halifax, Nova Scotia, disassembled it, transported it via ferry to Newfoundland, and then reassembled it piece-by-piece on "Quoyle Point", using snowmobiles so as not to disturb the natural location. All traces of it were removed at the end of filming.


Critical response[edit]

The Shipping News received mixed reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 55% rating, based on 130 reviews, with an average score of 5.8/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Though solidly made and acted, The Shipping News is rather heavy-handed and dull, especially given the nature of its protagonist."[2] At Metacritic, the film has a score of 47 out of 100, based on 31 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[3]





  1. ^ Caroline Baum, "Fred bare", The Age, 22 April 2006, Good Weekend magazine, p. 46
  2. ^ "The Shipping News (2001)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 14, 2015. 
  3. ^ "The Shipping News". Metacritic. Retrieved July 14, 2015. 

External links[edit]