The Shipping News

Question: What do Kevin Spacey and Jim Carrey have in common? Answer: They're running neck-in neck in the 'desperately seeking Oscar' race, which they probably won't win this year. (For further proof, see the overly schlocky K-Pax and the failed copycat-Capra, The Majestic) Slow down, boys, there's plenty of time in your prospective careers, and Kev, you've already won, (and deservedly so) for the sublime American Beauty. In this latest, Lasse Hallström's The Shipping News, Kevin Spacey plays Quoyle, the classic hapless loser, stuck with a low-life wife, slogging along in underemployment hell, trying to decently raise his young daughter. Events conspire to ship him back to the ancestral home in Newfoundland, where he patches up the pieces of his shattered life. Julianne Moore co-stars as Wavey, the equally-broken woman, who tends to Quoyle's beaten heart. The rest of the cast (the ever-reliable Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett, Scott Glenn, et al) pull their respective weight in recreating the requisite melancholy atmosphere of E. Annie Proulx's brooding novel. The Shipping News, though, loses its mooring somewhere in the re-telling, and drifts along without a captain, lost in a sea of melodramatic sentimentalism.