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Overall Rating
4.38

Awesome: 41.18%
Worth A Look55.88%
Average: 2.94%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 0%

9 reviews, 48 user ratings


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Station Agent, The
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by Erik Childress

"Dwarfs & Trains. A Magical Combo."
4 stars

2003 has seen a wash of wonderfully unusual and freshly-tuned relationships in the cinema. From the May-December non-romance in Lost in Translation to Angela Bettisí May and her inner doll, screenwriters this year are proving that its still possible to explore new angles; ones that hit different notes yet still all the right ones. How beautiful is it to relish in the comfort of friendship without complicating it through the conventions that amateurs read about in Syd Field rags. Thomas McCarthyís The Station Agent finds a way to fit into this glorious trend, just as his main character, a dwarf, discovers that its OK to be an outsider as long as you have a few friends to get you by.

Fin (Peter Dinklage) goes about his daily life ignoring the stares and disheartening taunts by those who think itís funny to see a little person in the neighborhood. When his boss and friend at the model train store where he works dies, Fin inherits a little piece of land including an abandoned train depot on the outskirts of New Jersey.

What appears to be the perfect spot for isolation, leaving Fin to his love for all-things trains, even this neighborhood comes with its regulars. Setting up shop everyday just outside is snack truck driver, Joe (Bobby Cannavale), who is enthusiastic at the prospect of having a talk partner each day even if Fin isnít so inclined. Also entering his life, and nearly ending it (twice), is erstwhile bohemian Olivia Harris (Patricia Clarkson) who lost her son and has been unable to fill the void in her life.

Fin would like nothing more than to never have to speak to anyone ever again and so would you if everytime you went for groceries, the clerk took your picture and smiled. Almost out of sheer unavoidance though, Fin allows Joe and Olivia to become a part of his everyday experiences. Simple ones, like walking, eating and more personally, trainwatching.

Thereís a wonderful humor that envelops these characters with the way they see the world around them and an underlying sadness that life canít help but bestow upon them. Fin and Olivia were probably outsiders to begin with, but have chosen to heighten their remoteness to avoid any further pain. Joe, who has a bedridden father that only speaks Spanish, probably made the transition into learning English so that he could adapt to the world around him making his desperate need for companionship all the more poignant.

Thomas McCarthy, an actor seen in Meet the Parents and TVís Boston Public, makes an assured debut as writer/director here. His screenplay allows us those kind of educated thoughts without having to slam home a grouping of hackneyed rationales. Itís painfully obvious why Fin has no interest in going to bars and the ending speaks volumes even in its sneaky abruptness.

Performances are solid across the board with Dinklage giving us all the character we need in his face. Clarkson is quickly emerging as one of the most reliable actresses to lead the charge for each consecutive Supporting Actress Oscar. Cannavale is an absolute joy, even in his most overbearing moments since we know his intentions are nothing more than of the sweet variety. And Michelle Williams shines (in an underwritten role) as the local librarian who takes a natural, non-curious shine to Fin.

The Station Agent was the one film I was shut out of this year at Sundance. After all the hype surrounding it, a slow bus prevented me from seeing what everyone was all smile about. (It went on to be the Audience Award Winner.) At the time, it just became another movie to shrug my shoulders about. Life moved on and I was determined to move with it. Little did I know what I had been missing sitting on the outside of that screening room waiting for the hours to go by before the next film. Iím sure Fin felt the same way on that porch at the end as I did catching up with the film in Chicago.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=6913&reviewer=198
originally posted: 10/17/03 15:00:57
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This film is available for download or online viewing at CinemaNow.com For more in the CinemaNow.com series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Vancouver Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Starz Denver Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Starz Denver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Chicago Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/05/10 PAUL SHORTT OBSERVANT AND THOUGHTFUL 3 stars
8/24/10 RLan a decent movie with a solid cast but it was slow at times. 3 stars
11/15/09 Liberty Man. Ditto to Annie G said. A pleasure to watch 4 stars
9/14/08 Annie G Extremely enjoyable film about friendship and life. 5 stars
3/03/08 ladavies Great performances, interesting characters. Great movie! 5 stars
12/29/07 David Absolute brilliance. You owe it to yourself to at least give this film a chance. 5 stars
4/29/07 Geraldine Lovely. And fun to watch back-to-back with Little Miss Sunshine. 5 stars
2/28/07 Matt Craven So good... but what ever happened with the librarian? What was the point of her role? 4 stars
5/16/06 Indrid Cold Hits all the right indie notes and almost none of the wrong ones. Dinklage is brilliant. 4 stars
8/30/05 ES Interesting, some comedy, sympathic main character 4 stars
8/15/05 Irene A truly wonderful movie. 5 stars
8/06/05 Phil M. Aficionado Just wish some of the scenes had played out a little longer; otherwise, great 4 stars
4/08/05 Rocco L Nazzaro Very good storyline about strangers that become friends. 4 stars
1/31/05 Darryl Wonderful characters and performances. A true gem. 5 stars
1/22/05 Tjalda L. Schiel Wonderful stuff. 5 stars
1/16/05 Jeff Anderson LIVING IN OBLIVION'S scene stealing Peter Dinklage is absolutely terrific in this movie! 5 stars
12/31/04 Landshark i like my trains straight , no chaser 4 stars
12/22/04 Michael O'Connor This is a great story. A MUST see film! 5 stars
12/17/04 Carl Utterback Truly funny and unforced. 5 stars
11/27/04 DM Not bad at all 4 stars
10/07/04 Rob P S Beautifully written and acted. 5 stars
9/29/04 Harry D A true gem. Fin's deadpan presence & honest dialogue won me over. 5 stars
8/10/04 Brian Mckay One of those rare films that I wish had gone on for longer. 4 stars
7/31/04 The Talking Elbow A refreshing movie which teaches a few good lessons. 4 stars
7/21/04 Danny Smith Gently humorous 4 stars
7/01/04 AlonsoGo Made me squirm but left a lasting grin on my face 4 stars
6/25/04 iulia pittman This is a very beautiful movie! 5 stars
5/23/04 Alan Liddle With the plot it should have shockin', but it was Great! 5 stars
4/17/04 alien assassin A film like this is worth a hundred "mainstream" flicks 5 stars
3/19/04 Fennie Mao Great movie for the whole family to enjoy. 4 stars
3/19/04 Jim Hollingsworth Great movie! It had me looking inside as much as at the movie! 5 stars
2/21/04 Matthew Smith a delightful film with plenty if heartfelt moments and very funny scenes 5 stars
2/19/04 cj Addictive! - a wonderful movie to see again and again. 5 stars
2/10/04 Liz Skipper Best picture I've seen since "The Way Home" [Korean] last year. So natural...so wonderful! 5 stars
1/21/04 Betty White Really good cast and an engaging storyline; what more can u ask for? 5 stars
1/17/04 Flora Durfee Great! One flaw was too much cigarette smoking, which wasn't necessary in telling the story 4 stars
12/28/03 Lorrie Rabin Wonderful movie! 5 stars
11/19/03 malcolm a pleasant little movie--a valuable lesson in minimalism 3 stars
11/07/03 Cameron Slick A small well-made film that explores loneliness very well. 4 stars
11/05/03 Ted A sensitive film to be enjoyed by all 5 stars
10/28/03 Deanna Fountain outstanding 5 stars
10/05/03 HH The best film I have seen so far this year 5 stars
9/18/03 Jeff Goldman A Masterpiece 5 stars
9/16/03 Hal Klegen The best film I saw all year! 5 stars
9/16/03 Nancy James Excellent!!!! 5 stars
9/16/03 April Connors Wonderful film!! 5 stars
9/11/03 Nick Hatalski Awesome film - A Must See 5 stars
7/20/03 Elizabeth Roussel A MUST SEE! 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  03-Oct-2003 (R)
  DVD: 15-Jun-2004

UK
  N/A

Australia
  05-Feb-2004




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