Based On Pulitzer Prize Book: Newspaper Life In Small Town
a movie adaptation mirror its literary source? This is a question
educators might ask students, suggesting they see these films
before reading their books.
Director Lasse Hallstrom’s lovely film, The Shipping News,
from a screenplay by Robert Nelson Jacobs, based on the Pulitzer
Prize novel by E. Annie Proulx, has been widely criticized for
casting Kevin Spacey as Quoyle, the novel’s fat protagonist. He
is convincing, although he doesn’t look like his literary counterpart.
Quoyle’s troubles link to a childhood incident when he nearly
drowns after his father throws him off a pier as a way of teaching
him to swim. Quoyle still drowns – in his troubled life. He has
a dead end job as a newspaper ink
setter; an unfaithful wife (wonderful cameo by Cate Blanchette)
who saddles him with a child. His parents commit suicide.
When Quoyle’s wife dies, the middle aged loser hits the road with
his aunt (a solid Judi Dench) and daughter for a new life in their
battered ancestral home in frozen Newfoundland. Hired by a local
paper to write the shipping news, he is helped by his eccentric
colleagues to sharpen his writing skills, and, with each article,
he seems to stand straighter. His growing love for widow Wavey
Prowse (a sweet Julianne Moore) also helps Quoyle gather the strength
to repair his wounds.
Shipping News, 111 minutes, released by Miramax, R; Scotland PA,
108 minutes, released by Lot 47 Films, R. Call 777-FILM.)
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