ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  lasse hallström

RATED  -  r

GENRE  -  drama

LENGTH  -  111 minutes

RELEASED  -  23 december 2001

DISTRIBUTOR  -  miramax pictures

OFFICIAL SITE  -  shipping news

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $35,000,000
the shipping news - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from the shipping news at

buy the dvd from the shipping news at

the story traces one man's extraordinary journey to self-discovery when he returns to his ancestral home on the coast of newfoundland.

kevin spacey put on about 25 pounds for the role of quoyle.


picture from the shipping news

picture from the shipping news

picture from the shipping news


two out of four possible stars

Seeing this movie will allow you to take a journey into the lives of some very disturbed people and a very cold island. Everybody in this film has monster sized problems and really heavy coats. (just a note, since i've never read the novel this film is based on, I'll be reviewing this film on the merits of the film alone, rather than in its comparisons to the book) The characters in this film may have their problems, but by the end of the film, when everything rights itself, or seems to anyway, it really doesn't matter who died or who's gotten hurt. The characters are strong enough to overcome any faults in the storyline.

An amazing group of actors populate Kevin Spacey, Julianne Moore, Judi Dench all do tremendous work with the roles they've been given and turn the film into something that's quite depressing in most spots to a story whose characters are easy to care about despite how bleak everything is. And by the last half hour or so, the stuff that gets revealed starts to become quite overwhelming. With any other cast, all these revelations might have been too much to take, but everyone in the cast completely embody their roles and create characters which are endearing to the viewer.

But even with these incredible performances, the end of the film seems a bit rushed. Although everyone doesn't necessarily have a "perfect" ending, it seems as though some loose ends aren't tied up properly. Or perhaps it's that the film ends pretty fast. At the end of the film, something happens to the house that kevin and his family had been living in. After this event, the film ends within about ten seconds. The film's ending seems rushed. There isn't enough time before the credits start to role to understand what's going to happen to these people.

It's as if Kevin's character says "everything's gonna be all right," and then the camera is pulling away from the island and the picture's fading into white with Lasse Halstrom's name flashing on the screen. The resolution seems forced and sudden. And although the film is over two hours long, when the credits do start to roll, the characters seem to be suspended in time, at that moment, so that the picture just kind of "leave you hanging." that doesn't mean that it's unbearable that you don't get to see what happens to these people, but the ending still seems to occure a little too soon. Everything's sewn up nice and neat in these peoples' lives and with the emotional stress each of them has been through, the resolutions just seem too hurried.

On odd note on the classification of this film as a "drama/comedy," is the humor that's thrown in every few scenes. Mostly involving strange comments about Newfoundlanders, it's not surprising that the audience has already seen the funniest line in the film during the trailer. It's a scene where Kevin Spacey and an elderly man stare out at the ocean, which is filled with dark clouds. They exchange a few witty words on the creation of a good newspaper story. It's the best set of lines in the book. And it is disappointing that the filmmakers, or trailer editors, would choose to put in that specific scene on the trailer, giving the viewer no chance to see anything new in the humor department when viewing the whole film.

It's a mistake made by countless filmmakers, putting too much of the final product into the preview. Perhaps they were trying to get some butts in the seats by showing a witty scene, but I believe that this scene would have been more of a treasure had it been saved for the actual viewing of the entire film, rather than just the two and a half minute trailer. But the end of this film and the trailer aside, the rest of the components of this film really add up to quite an experience. The production values on this film seem to be quite impressive, when you look at the elements of the film that don't have to do with story or characters.

Both the score and the cinematorgraphy are beautiful. The score sounds a lot like these people live on the coast of ireland, even though the movie takes place in Newfoundland. Though those accents everybody sports during the movie sound like something between an Irish accent, an English accent, a Canadian accent, and an American accent. It's quite original though it takes some getting used to. But the music almost matches their odd accents as it's got the influence of a few different cultures. Though it's mostly a celtic sound. Which goes hand in hand with the cold, snowy landscape in which the movie takes place.

And the cinematography, considering the vistas the director of photography had to work with, creates more than enough "ooh's and ahh's" to satisfy any fan of grand vistas. But there's more to it than just good views. there's also the environment in which the film takes place. It just lends itself to being beautiful and the director of photography really had a good handle on what to point his camera at. On a last note, and it's really just a few side notes on the film, I happened to notice that before he moves up to Newfoundland with his family, Kevin Spacey's character works for "The Poughkeepsie News" in their ink department.

Well, in real life, there is no Poughkeepsie News. It's actually called "The Poughkeepsie Journal." Though this isn't any sort of a complaint, and it really doesn't matter, but for anyone who's lived around that area, it's something that'll stare you right in the face. But back to the film, aside from some mistakes in story, this film has some fine performances and a good combination of cinematography and music that create an engrossing theatrical experience.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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