The Shipping News
Emotionally abused by a cruel father and devastated by a disastrous marriage, Quoyle (Kevin Spacey) and his 6-year-old daughter, Bunny (Alyssa /Kaitlyn /Lauren Gainer), return to his family’s origin in Newfoundland to live with his Aunt Agnis (Judi Dench). Quoyle decides to settle there to give his daughter a sense of belonging and security. As a reporter for the local newspaper, he learns the peaceful little fishing village holds many secrets. Even the lovely Wavey (Julianne Moore), a single mom with a mentally challenged little boy, has a dark secret. A somber, heartwarming family tale, THE SHIPPING NEWS will appeal especially to those familiar with the 1993 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Annie Proulx.
The film opens with Quoyle’s father pushing him as a young boy off a dock to teach him to swim. He leads a solitary life until he meets Petal (Cate Blanchett), who flits from one cheap tawdry affair to another. Ten minutes after they meet, the two are engaged in a graphic sex scene. Later, Petal brings a man into their home and Quoyle hears sounds of sex through the walls. When Quoyle is left to raise his daughter alone, his deep love for Bunny enables him to finally develop a loving relationship. Flashbacks provide background to explain characters, showing Quoyle nearly drowning twice, a floating corpse, a graphic vision of a man tortured to death, and a young girl’s rape. Salty language ,including seven obscenities and nine profanities, plus the brief but graphic sex scene, always gratuitous by our standards, sink THE SHIPPING NEWS for acceptability.