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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

The Shipping News (2001)



Reviews and Comments

The Shipping News is nothing if not quirky. It spends time with an odd jumble of colorful characters and has a firm sense of location, too. Most of it takes place in Newfoundland. I have never been to Newfoundland and don't know if it looks and feels like what it does in this movie, but, regardless, the setting of the movie is palpably real. It has a distinctive look but also a distinctive sound, feel, and mood. Sense of place is something I particularly admire in movies, and The Shipping News has it.

Its story is every bit as offbeat as its characters. Threads diverge and come together without seeming to make up anything but a wholly linear plot. Every day drama is punctuated by moments of sudden macabre. Though this movie did not, I suppose, make me care very much for its characters, I did at least care about watching them. This is not a bad accomplishment on the movie's part. It's early to tell, but I suspect that in a year I will have forgotten most of the story but still remember its atmosphere. This is not a bad accomplishment either.