The Shipping News movie poster
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The Shipping News movie poster

The Shipping News Movie Review

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Comedy, drama, and really messed up stuff blend together seamlessly in The Shipping News, Kevin Spacey's best movie since American Beauty.

The Shipping News tells the story of a man who moves to Newfoundland with his daughter after his estranged wife is killed, and ends up falling in love with one of the locals. But this is not a love story by any stretch of the imagination; it is a story about life and death, and a lot of other stuff that is too crazy to describe.

The Shipping News caught me off guard for plenty of reasons; I was expecting a drama about a man trying to make a new go at things in a strange environment. In some respects, that is exactly what this movie is about. However, that plotline is only the string that guides all of the other story arcs along. There is a love story going on, but there are also stories about the dark pasts of the locals. And when I say dark, I mean hideously twisted and strange.

Some may find the events that take place in The Shipping News rather gruesome or more likely just out-of-place, but I was amazed by how the movie combines so many little things into such a perfect little movie. The movie is filled with light comedy, yet it also has dark tales to tell. It is dramatic, though it is funny. Most importantly, though, The Shipping News is entertaining from beginning to end.

Kevin Spacey leads the cast, and he is magnificent. He isn't quite as good as in American Beauty, and the reason I can compare the two characters is because in a way they are very similar. The man that Spacey portrays here is weak-minded and unsure of himself, much like Lester Burnham in American Beauty. Yet here, Spacey is not working in a satirical world, and so he gets to show a little more emotion. His character isn't as fun to watch as Lester, but Spacey, like most of his roles, makes this one entertaining as well.

Julianne Moore also stars, and she too does a great job. Though she has a relatively small amount of screen time, not to mention very little dramatic scenes to work with, she really drills into her character and shows a lot of depth.

The only person I was not impressed with was Judi Dench. She does not do a bad job, but the movie never explores her very much. One very startling thing from her past is brought to life, but it seems as though that is the only reason why she is in this movie. Dench never gets a chance to work with her character, and when she is on screen, she is drab and boring.

The script is great, the acting is great, and The Shipping News is a comedy drama that has a really dark side to it. Don't be scared by it, though; you'll be surprisingly entertained by this gem of a movie.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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