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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 Jay Seaver

"It's good to have friends, even if making them is an unfamiliar process."
4 stars

I've heard that when The Station Agent was first being cast, writer/director Thomas McCarthy hadn't planned on Finbar McBride (Peter Dinklage) being a dwarf; that apparently came later. If so, I'm curious to know what set Fin apart in the early drafts, since this is a story about a man whose interactions with others are clearly defined by an immediately noticeable physical difference.

Still, Fin's defining characteristic early on is that he likes trains. A lot. He works in a model railway shop owned by Henry, apparently his only friend (though in the back, to avoid comments he's heard a thousand time before); his small apartment contains train memorabelia, and his social circle seems to mainly include other train nuts. His entire world seems to be centered around one building in Hoboken, NJ, which contains the store and his apartment, with occasional, unpleasant trips to the outside world where he endures the taunts of "normal" people who see him as an oddity rather than a man.

Henry owned the building, though, and when he dies suddenly, Fin is told that the store will close and the building will be sold. But, Henry has left him a piece of land in the town of Newfoundland, NJ, on which is situated an unused train station. He heads out (apparently traveling the 30 miles on foot), following the rails, and though there's no electricity or water when he arrives, it is isolated and there are trains and tracks, making it all Fin wants. Until people start showing up, whether they be the gregarious Joe (Bobby Cannavale) who sets up his father's hot dog truck outside the station; or the sad Olivia (Patricia Clarkson), who nearly runs him over...twice; or Cleo (Raven Goodwin), a young girl who also has an interest in trains.

This is a remarkably good-natured movie; Fin's initial well-earned crankiness is balanced by Joe's likability, and the ultimate message is less a heavy-handed one of tolerance and more how it's good to have friends, even if making them is an unfamiliar process. It's frequently very funny, avoiding the short jokes and getting its laughs from the characters' personalities. The characters are all well-played, and the direction is solid.

I did have a couple questions during the movie, like how Fin pays the bills after the shop is sold, but the movie is short enough to not wear out its welcome, bloat with an excess of supporting characters, or overcomplicate a fairly simple story.

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originally posted: 06/04/04 10:15:32
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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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