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"THE SHIPPING NEWS"
(2001) (Kevin Spacey, Julianne Moore) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Moderate Heavy Heavy Heavy None
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild None Mild None Heavy
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Heavy Mild Heavy Heavy Moderate


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: After the death of the mother of his child, a quiet and introspective typesetter moves to Newfoundland with his daughter and her great aunt and tries to start his life anew in the small town where she grew up.
PLOT:
Quoyle (KEVIN SPACEY) is a quiet and introspective typesetter for the Poughkeepsie News who's never quite gotten over growing up at the hands of his overbearing father, especially concerning his tactic of throwing him off a dock as a young boy and telling him to swim.

One day, and after having a spat with her latest lover, a young tart, Petal (CATE BLANCHETT), literally walks into Quoyle's life. One thing quickly leads to another and nine months later their daughter Bunny is born. Yet, while Petal calls Quoyle's place home and Bunny her daughter, she spends little time there with them.

Soon, many years have passed by, Bunny (KAITLYN, LAUREN and ALYSSA GAINER) is six-years-old, and Quoyle is hit with a double whammy. Not only have his parents committed suicide, but Petal has also died in a car crash with her latest fling. The one saving grace for him is that his estranged aunt, Agnis Hamm (JUDI DENCH), has arrived upon hearing of her older brother's death. She eventually convinces Quoyle that the best thing for him and Bunny is to move back to Newfoundland and the small town where she grew up and start life anew.

In the rugged and dreary coastal village, Quoyle finds work at the local newspaper, The Gammy Bird, run by fisherman Jack Buggit (SCOTT GLENN). Working with Beaufield Nutbeem (RHYS IFANS), the foreign news reporter, Billy Pretty (GORDON PINSENT), the home news page editor, and Tert Card (PETE POSTLETHWAITE), the managing editor, Quoyle suddenly finds himself working as a reporter covering the shipping news as well as the town's auto accidents, real or fabricated.

As he tries to get used to that, he meets Wavey Prowse (JULIANNE MOORE), a single mother who's raising her mentally slow child, Henry (WILL McALLISTER), and runs the local daycare that Bunny attends. With her being a widow, the two share a common bond that forges a friendship as well as tenuous and uneasy romantic longings between them.

With Jack's estranged son, Dennis (JASON BEHR), helping repair Agnis' isolated childhood home where she, Bunny and Quoyle now live, the novice reporter tries to fit in while dealing with all sorts of happenings and occurrences in his new home.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Unless they're fans of someone in the cast, it doesn't seem likely that most kids - other than some curious, older teens -- will want to see it.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For some language, sexuality and disturbing images.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • KEVIN SPACEY plays a seemingly shell-shocked newspaper typesetter who has all sorts of familial tragedy affect him. He eventually takes his daughter to Newfoundland where he tries to begin a new life as a newspaper reporter. He briefly uses strong profanity and is drunk in one scene.
  • JUDI DENCH plays his melancholy but wise aunt who brings him back home, all while harboring her own secrets. She briefly uses profanity and is later revealed to be a lesbian.
  • JULIANNE MOORE plays a single mom who runs the local daycare and raises her mentally slow child, all while becoming interested in Quoyle. She briefly uses strong profanity.
  • CATE BLANCHETT plays a loose woman who gives birth to Quoyle's child after a night of passion, but then acts disrespectful to him in various ways, including bringing other men back to his house for sex. She also uses strong profanity.
  • SCOTT GLENN plays the owner of the small town's newspaper who'd rather be fishing, but gives Jack a break by giving him a job at the paper. He doesn't get along with his adult son due to past arguments.
  • PETE POSTLETHWAITE plays the surly editor of the paper who smokes and doesn't like Quoyle or the favoritism he seems to receive from Jack.
  • RHYS IFANS plays a reporter at the paper who befriends Quoyle and drinks.
  • GORDON PINSENT plays another worker at the paper who does the same.
  • JASON BEHR plays Jack's estranged son who doesn't speak with him due to a falling out they had in the past. Banned from fishing, he now works at a carpenter and helps rebuild Agnis' childhood home.
  • KAITLYN, LAUREN and ALYSSA GAINER play Quoyle's 6-year-daughter who isn't happy about moving to Newfoundland and is still reacting to her mother's death.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a quick look at the content that occurs in this R-rated drama. Profanity consists of at least 4 uses of the "f" word, while other expletives and a handful of colorful phrases are also used. Some sexually related dialogue is present (some of it explicit), and a sexual encounter is seen with movement and sounds. The woman of that pairing apparently sleeps with other men, but we don't see any more encounters (although we later see her in her thong as she gets dressed). Meanwhile, an older female character is ultimately revealed to be a lesbian.

    Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes, some of which we see, while certain characters talk about others. Among them is a flashback scene of a teen raping his 12-year-old half sister (with brief talk of her then having an abortion), and a woman who lives with a man and their daughter but is never home due to being with other men.

    Various scenes may be unsettling or disturbing to viewers, such as the above rape, the discovery of a headless body floating in the water (and the later sight of its severed head), some near drowning scenes, and some talk of a ghost and odd sounds coming from the house (neither of which ultimately has any supernatural elements). Several characters are killed off camera in car accidents, and all sorts of tense family moments are present.

    Meanwhile, various characters drink (and in one scene many people are intoxicated to varying degrees), while others smoke. If you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to take a closer look at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the content.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Petal orders some vodka in a bar.
  • Petal has a beer in a bar while others also drink.
  • Nutbeem and Dennis have beer.
  • A husband and wife have drinks.
  • Nutbeem, Dennis and Billy have beer in front of them.
  • Quoyle and Wavey may have beer with their food, but the cans can't be identified.
  • Various people drink and/or are drunk at a party, including Quoyle who later visits Wavey in that state, briefly tries to come on to her, and then passes out. The next morning he has a hangover, but later takes a beer from Nutbeem while he, Dennis and Billy all hold beers.
  • People have drinks at a wake.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We see a shot of a car being pulled from a river with two dead bodies in it (both are wet, but not bloody or gory and not yet decomposed).
  • We see a great deal of internal guts and the like as Jack cleans a large fish (by cutting open its belly).
  • We hear Agnis urinating in an outhouse.
  • We see what looks like a little bit of blood on a boot and the road below it (at a car accident scene where we also see a leg sticking out of the open passenger side door).
  • We hear but don't explicitly see Quoyle vomiting (from seeing the above).
  • During a nightmare scene of pirates attacking a ship, we see a quick shot of a man who's missing his nose (after we heard it was cut off) and there's some blood and/or a reddish/blackish scab there.
  • Quoyle discovers a headless body floating in the water and we later see its head drop out of a cooler and land next to Quoyle (we hear that a wife killed her husband).
  • We see some blood from Quoyle's hand underwater after he's cut it.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • In a flashback, we see that Quoyle's father has pushed him (as a boy) off a dock and into a body of water (to "teach" him how to swim) where the boy struggles to keep his head above the surface and then sinks below it.
  • Petal treats Quoyle badly, making him raise Bunny while she's out seeing other men, one of which she even brings home to their house. We also hear that she sold Bunny to a black market adoption ring.
  • Tert has a bit of both types of attitudes toward Quoyle, even going so far as to radically changing a story (to serve his own interest) that Quoyle has written but keeping his name on it nonetheless (hoping he'll resign).
  • A visiting husband and wife don't get along with each other.
  • We hear (and then see the flashback regarding the moment) that Quoyle's father raped Agnis (his half sister) when they were just kids (and that she apparently had an abortion, at the age of 12, as a result).
  • Various people drunkenly tear up Nutbeem's boat so that he can't leave.
  • Quoyle visits Wavey while drunk and briefly tries to grope her.
  • We hear that Wavey's former husband apparently had many affairs and then left her when she was eight months pregnant and no longer any good to him in bed.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • In a flashback, we see that Quoyle's father has pushed him (as a boy) off a dock and into a body of water (to "teach" him how to swim) where the boy struggles to keep his head above the surface and then sinks below it.
  • We see a shot of a car being pulled from a river with two dead bodies in it (both are wet, but not bloody or gory and not yet decomposed).
  • At night, and in several scenes, there are various odd moaning-like sounds coming from the house, but it turns out they're from the winds causing the steel cables attached to the house to vibrate. In one scene, Bunny then sees a ghostly-like figure pass by the window and screams.
  • Quoyle has a nightmare of seeing a car lifted from a river where the dead passenger's eyes are open and then shift toward the camera as her mouth opens.
  • After Quoyle learns that his ancestors were pirates, we see a brief nightmare scene of them attacking a boat and struggling with some people (while a woman screams and a person is dead or unconscious). During that, we also see a quick shot of a man who's missing his nose (after we heard it was cut off) and there's some blood and/or a reddish/blackish scab there.
  • While out in his boat by himself, Quoyle comes across a headless body and panics upon seeing it, causing his boat to sink and he scrambles to grab ahold of a cooler to stay afloat (all while having separate visions of his father and Petal). He then has a few more encounters with the body. Later, after being rescued, the cooler is opened and a severed head falls out and lands next to Quoyle.
  • We hear that Quoyle's father raped Agnis (his half sister) when they were just kids. We then see a flashback to that as they're ice-skating and he then pins her to the snowy ground and rapes her (seen in a head and shoulders shot and then a long shot that both show movement and includes the sound of her screaming/crying).
  • Although mostly played for black comedy laughs, a supposedly dead person suddenly spits out some water and comes to at his wake (while some people scream in reaction).
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • None.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "F*cked up," "Is that f*cked up enough for you?" "Oh sh*t," "Bloody" (adjective), "Your story tugs at me bladder" (what a person says before heading off to the bathroom), "Snotty," "Bastard," "You don't have the sense that God gave a donut, do you?" "Buggers" and "Little bitch."
  • Petal has casual sex with various men.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A mild amount of suspenseful music plays in the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 4 "f" words (1 used sexually as are the terms "get laid" and "done the dirty"), 5 "s" words, 2 asses (1 used with "hole"), 1 damn, 1 hell, 3 uses of "Jesus," 2 each of "G-damn," "For Christ's sakes" and "Oh Jesus" and 1 use each of "Christ," "Jesus Sweet Christ," "Oh Lord," "Oh my God," "Oh Christ" and "My Lord" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • After just having met Petal, she checks his watch for the time and then states, "I think I'm going to f*ck you by ten. What do you think of that?" We then see them having sex with her on top of him with lots of movement and sounds (and him with a surprised expression on his face), but no nudity. They then climax (with related sounds), she rolls off him (we see her in her bra that shows cleavage) and states, "That was the biggest one yet." She then adds that she's always hungry "after I get laid" because she burns up so many calories and that she loves it on top. We later see that she's pregnant from this encounter.
  • Petal brings a man home to Quoyle's house and apparently has sex with him. The next morning, we see her getting dressed and see most of her butt in her thong bottom (covered by transparent fishnet stockings).
  • Petal shows some cleavage in several scenes.
  • Agnis says that Quoyle's grandfather died when he was 12, prompting Quoyle to say that he couldn't have been his grandfather if that's the case. Agnis then replies that he doesn't know Newfoundlanders (implying the 12 year-old fathered her).
  • Billy tells Quoyle that there's another Quoyle on the island who supposedly slept with his wife after she was dead.
  • We then learn that Agnis is/was a lesbian, and later briefly see her in bed with her female assistant (but nothing sexual is occurring).
  • Dennis drunkenly asks Quoyle if he and Wavey have "done the dirty" yet.
  • Quoyle visits Wavey while drunk and briefly tries to grope her.
  • We hear that Wavey's former husband apparently had many affairs and then left her when she was eight months pregnant and no longer any good to him in bed.
  • Quoyle and Wavey passionately make out (but we don't know if anything else happens).
  • SMOKING
  • Tert smokes around 4 times, while various other characters smoke a few times.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • In a flashback, we see that Quoyle's father has pushed him (as a boy) off a dock and into a body of water (to "teach" him how to swim) where the boy struggles to keep his head above the surface and then sinks below it. Quoyle then adds, via voice over narration, that from where his father stood, his failure to dog paddle was just the first of many failures.
  • Although they're not married, Quoyle and Petal live together and have Bunny as their daughter, although theirs is a dysfunctional family. That includes Petal selling Bunny to a black market adoption ring.
  • We hear a recorded telephone message from Quoyle's father that he and his mother have decided to commit suicide and we then see a shot of their bodies being wheeled out on gurneys. Later, we see Quoyle carrying the urns holding their ashes.
  • Quoyle tries to tell Bunny that Petal is dead, but the best he can do is tell her that she's sleeping and won't be waking up.
  • We hear that Wavey's husband was drowned at sea when she was pregnant.
  • Dennis and his father (both adults) don't speak to each other (after Jack forbid Dennis from boarding a boat again after nearly drowning).
  • A visiting husband and wife don't get along with each other.
  • We hear that a wife killed her husband (and see the results - a floating, headless body).
  • We hear (and then see the flashback regarding the moment) that Quoyle's father raped Agnis (his half sister) when they were just kids (and that she apparently had an abortion, at the age of 12, as a result).
  • We hear that Wavey's former husband apparently had many affairs and then left her when she was eight months pregnant and no longer any good to him in bed.
  • A person learns that his father had died and there's a wake.
  • After seeing a person seemingly come back from the dead at a wake, Bunny asks her father why they didn't have a wake for Petal so that the same thing could have happened. She then asks if it's because of her that her mother drove away.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • In a flashback, we see that Quoyle's father has pushed him (as a boy) off a dock and into a body of water (to "teach" him how to swim) where the boy struggles to keep his head above the surface and then sinks below it. Quoyle then adds, via voice over narration, that from where his father stood, his failure to dog paddle was just the first of many failures.
  • Quoyle confusing sex with love (in relation to Petal).
  • Quoyle tries to tell Bunny that Petal is dead, but the best he can do is tell her that she's sleeping and won't be waking up.
  • Agnis says that Quoyle's grandfather died when he was 12, prompting Quoyle to say that he couldn't have been his grandfather if that's the case. Agnis then replies that he doesn't know Newfoundlanders (implying the 12 year-old fathered her).
  • Wavey's son Harry being a bit slow (she explains that he didn't get enough air while being born).
  • Billy tells Quoyle that there's another Quoyle on the island who supposedly slept with his wife after she was dead.
  • We hear (and then see the flashback regarding the moment) that Quoyle's father raped Agnis (his half sister) when they were just kids (and that she apparently had an abortion, at the age of 12, as a result).
  • We then learn that Agnis is/was a lesbian, and briefly see her in bed with her female assistant (but nothing sexual is occurring).
  • VIOLENCE
  • In a flashback, we see that Quoyle's father has pushed him (as a boy) off a dock and into a body of water (to "teach" him how to swim) where the boy struggles to keep his head above the surface and then sinks below it.
  • We see a shot of a car being pulled from a river with two dead bodies in it (both are wet, but not bloody or gory and not yet decomposed) and we hear that they were killed on impact (but we don't see the actual event).
  • We see that two people were killed in a car accident (but don't see the actual event, although we do see some blood on a boot and the road below it).
  • Quoyle discovers Bunny bashing one of her dolls with a hammer before ripping off its head.
  • After Quoyle learns that his ancestors were pirates, we see a brief nightmare scene of them attacking a boat and struggling with some people (while a woman screams and a person is dead or unconscious). During that, we also see a quick shot of a man who's missing his nose (after we heard it was cut off) and there's some blood and/or a reddish/blackish scab there.
  • Quoyle discovers a headless body floating in the water and we later see its head drop out of a cooler and land next to Quoyle (we hear that a wife killed her husband).
  • We hear that Quoyle's father raped Agnis (his half sister) when they were just kids (her being 12, him a bit older). We then see a flashback to that as they're ice-skating and he then pins her to the snowy ground and rapes her (seen in a head and shoulders shot and then a long shot that both show movement and includes the sound of her screaming/crying).
  • Various people drunkenly tear up Nutbeem's boat (with chainsaws and sledgehammers, etc.) so that he can't leave.
  • Quoyle visits Wavey while intoxicated and briefly tries to grope her. In turn, she pushes him backwards against a wall, causing him to fall to the floor. The next morning, she throws a skillet to the floor in anger.



  • Reviewed December 21, 2001 / Posted December 25, 2001

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