Shipping News, The

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +2

Content: -2

Emotionally abused by a cruel father and devastated by a disastrous marriage, Quoyle (Kevin Spacey) and 6-year-old daughter, Bunny (Alyssa Gainer/Kaitlyn Gainer/Lauren Gainer). return to his family's origin in Newfoundland to live with his Aunt Agnis (Judi Dench). He finds his ancestors' abandoned, rickety old house standing on a stark hill overlooking the sea. Prompted by Agnis, Quoyle decides to settle there and give his daughter a sense of belonging and security. He also takes a job at the local newspaper, "The Shipping News." As a reporter, he learns the peaceful little fishing village holds many secrets that occured both on land and at sea. Even the lovely Wavey (Julianne Moore), a single mom with a mentally challenged little boy, carries a dark secret. A somber, heartwarming family tale, THE SHIPPING NEWS has much to offer mature audiences, especially those familiar with the 1993 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Annie Proulx. The general public, however, may find it too "heavy," which is why its distribution will be limited unless the film earns award nominations.

Flashbacks are used to provide background and explain various characters’ emotional responses. The film opens with a scene of Quoyle’s father pushing him off a dock as a young boy to teach him to swim. Scenes of Quoyle nearly drowning twice begin the list of inner demons that cripple him emotionally. Living a lonely, solitary life seems his fate until he meets Petal (Cate Blanchett), a beautiful, but promiscuous woman 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 Petal leaves Quoyle to raise his daughter alone, he begins to look beyond his own insecurities and develops a loving, close relationship with Bunny. Other flashbacks include a floating corpse, the graphic imagined face of a man tortured to death, and a young girl's rape. Salty language includes seven obscenities and nine profanities. The brief but graphic sex scene between Quoyle and Petal, always gratuitous by Preview's standards, further wreck THE SHIPPING NEWS for acceptability.

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughon
Miramax Films, 375 Greenwich St., NY, NY 10013

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Few (2) times – Moderate

Obscene Language: Several (7) times – F-word 4, s-word 3

Profanity: Many (10) times – Regular 9 (GD 3, J 3, JC, C, C-sake); exclamatory once

Violence: Several times – Moderate (two near-drownings, graphic image of tortured man, floating corpse, couple killed in car crash, implied rape of young girl)

Sex: Once (graphic motion, no nudity); implied twice (sounds heard, unmarried couple retire to bedroom after passionate kiss)

Nudity: Once (rear female); Near Nudity - Few times (woman in revealing necklines)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Few times (woman propositions man)

Drugs: Few times (men get drunk and destroy boat, some beer drinking)

Other: Father learns meaning of family love; father erroneously tells daughter death like sleeping, 'body' regains consciousness at a wake; woman puts deceased brother's ashes in latrine

Running Time: 115 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

Click HERE for a PRINTER-FRIENDLY version of this review.