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With: Kevin Spacey, Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett, Julianne Moore, Pete Postlethwaite, Scott Glenn, Rhys Ifans
Written by: Robert Nelson Jacobs, based on the novel by E. Annie Proulx
Directed by: Lasse Hallstrom
MPAA Rating: R for some language, sexuality and disturbing images
Running Time: 120
Date: 12/18/2001

The Shipping News (2001)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Waste Paper

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Producer/egomaniac Harvey Weinstein has assembled what he thinks is sure-firecast and crew: Oscar-winner Judi Dench, two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey,Oscar nominees Julianne Moore, Cate Blanchette and Pete Postlethwaite, plustwice Oscar-nominated director Lasse Hallstrom and an Oscar-nominatedscreenwriter Robert Nelson Jacobs. All this for a Pulitzer prize-winning book byE. Annie Proulx. This year, come hell or high water, Harvey will have himself anOscar!

But even if you fed all this information into a computer, you couldn't have come up with a worse movie. Spacey plays an idiot named Quoyle who, after losing his wife (Blanchett) is convinced by his aunt (Dench) to move back to his ancestral home in Newfoundland to start over. He gets a job on the local newspaper, deals with a supposed ghost, and learns to conquer his fear of water. As with Hallstrom's last film for Harvey, Chocolat, you can sense that the book might have had some substance to it, but The Shipping News the movie is nothing but contradictions and ennui. Spacey is supposed to be dumb, but says clever things whenever the plot calls for it. Indeed, each scene consists of someone trying to trick information out of someone else: at first the person resists, then they give in and it's supposed to be poignant. Quite frankly, Spacey was better in the brain-dead sci-fi flick K-PAX. Harvey reportedly recalled the film to make some more cuts since I saw it at a preview screening. It won't help.

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