The two best things with this movie are the beautiful Newfoundland scenery and the score. The movie has a cold and harsh atmosphere that can almost be physically felt. The acting is as good as it can be in a movie like this; it actually took a while before I recognized Cate Blanchett. The story contains some surprises to keep things interesting.
Despite the above, The Shipping News is not a great movie. Pieces seem to be missing here and there, and the movie keeps a distance from the viewer. Nothing disastrous, but I cannot escape the feeling of unused potential.