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Overall Rating

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 Natasha Theobald

"Captivating, hilarious, and immensely lovable."
5 stars

It's truly gratifying to see life as it is captured on the screen. It's entertaining without pummeling you over the head with itself. It's funny and warm and awkward and odd. It takes you by surprise and leaves you longing for more. The crowd actually applauded at the end of this movie. Have you witnessed such an event recently for less than an epic extravaganza? I know I haven't.

Fin (Peter Dinklage) is into trains, which seems kind of boring but actually is pretty interesting. He works in a model train store until, one day, the owner collapses to his death. In his will, Fin is given a train depot in a small New Jersey town. With his job and friend gone, he picks up and moves there. The town is extremely small, but, over time, he meets some of the people who have also found themselves alone, together, there.

Fin meets Joe (Bobby Cannavale) right outside his door, where Joe's beverage and snack van gets parked. Fin isn't one to go looking for new friends, but Joe is so persistant that he eventually is won over. The same is true for Olivia (Patricia Clarkson), a woman he first meets when she runs him off the road in a very real and literal way. The three forge a strange sort of bond from shared loneliness and a kinship born of mutual interest and an innate curiousity for life. The trio is tossed a bit by upswings and downturns, but the friendship forged is too powerful in its humor and light to remain submerged long in the murky depths. And, that's it. We are dropped into the middle of these lives and yanked back out again. It ends, and, as with a great book, you just want one more glimpse.

The cast in this movie is utterly astounding. The credit is due, in part, to a great script by writer and director Thomas McCarthy, who sees these people as three dimensional, but the actors have given him everything he needed to breathe life into the words. Peter Dinklage, who you may remember from his irate bit in "Living in Oblivion," is so genuine and so knowing as his character that people may well have trouble distinguishing him from it. He has a wonderful, expressive face that you want to watch. Bobby Cannavale, who I've only seen in drama, is so hilarious and so fully Joe that you want to hug him and muzzle him at the same time. Patricia Clarkson is asked to be an optimistic person made cynical by desperate circumstances, and she walks the line delicately and with grace.

They are joined by Raven Goodwin as a young girl with an important lesson to teach about the goodness of most people, the openness and kindness and sweetness of children. Michelle Williams is on hand to inject some drama and romance. She is equally open and gives the proceedings some energy and hope. There are people depicted in this movie who see Fin as a small person, but the rest are people who only see the person he is and grow to love him for it, including him, it seems.

I laughed more in these ninety minutes and felt more for these people than I have in a theater for some time. There are many movies designed to manipulate tears or garner cheap laughs. This movie may be marginally guilty of that as well. But, where it succeeds, ultimately, is in finding a place between loneliness and the comical errors of life to call home.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 01/15/04 06:22:22
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This film is available for download or online viewing at For more in the 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

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 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
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  03-Oct-2003 (R)
  DVD: 15-Jun-2004



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