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

The Shipping News
The Shipping News film.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byLasse Hallström
Produced by
Screenplay byRobert Nelson Jacobs
Based onThe Shipping News
by Annie Proulx
Music byChristopher Young
CinematographyOliver Stapleton
Edited byAndrew Mondshein
Distributed byMiramax Films
Release date
  • December 18, 2001 (2001-12-18)
Running time
111 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$38 million
Box office$25 million[1]

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



Quoyle's father tosses him into the water, expecting him to naturally swim. The image of struggling to swim returns to Quoyle's mind in times of crisis.

Quoyle 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, marrying her and having a daughter they name Bunny. Six years later, 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 $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 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.

While struggling to rebuild his life, fix up the derelict house, and care for his daughter, Quoyle meets local resident Wavey Prowse, 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. Wavey's husband was killed while he was out to sea during a storm. The Quoyle family were pirates who moved their house to get away from the neighbors. An old man, who is friends with Quoyle tells him Agnis was raped by her brother when they were children.

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. An article Quoyle writes about a millionaire's yacht docked in town, however, becomes a great success with readers, and the newspaper'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.

A storm 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.



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.[2]


Critical responseEdit

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."[3] At Metacritic, the film has a score of 47 out of 100, based on 31 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[4]





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

External linksEdit