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Overall Rating

Awesome: 41.75%
Worth A Look55.34%
Average: 2.91%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 0%

9 reviews, 49 user ratings

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Station Agent, The
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by EricDSnider

"A delightful surprise."
4 stars

The main character in "The Station Agent" is a dwarf, but dwarfism is almost never an issue in the film. Early in his tentative, halting friendship with another guy, the new friend asks, "Do you people have clubs?" But he doesn't mean dwarfs; he means train enthusiasts, which the dwarf also is. In the world of this film, people are who they are first and what they look like second.

The world of this film is a fine place, and the film itself is a warm, contemplative comedy that cannot, I suspect, fail to make a viewer exit happier than he went in.

Finbar McBride (Peter Dinklage) is the aforementioned little person, and early in the movie he inherits an abandoned train depot in rural Newfoundland, N.J. He moves there immediately, seeking to shut himself off from society, which frequently gives him more attention than he wants. A train depot that is barely used seems the perfect place.

Except that each morning, an exceedingly friendly young man named Joe (Bobby Cannavale) sets up his portable coffee cart next to the depot. He wants to be Finbar's friend, and not out of curiosity, but because Joe -- for reasons that are never explained and that remain a pleasant mystery to me -- does not seem to have any good friends, despite being handsome, athletic and easy-going.

Into their world comes another local, Olivia Harris (Patricia Clarkson), a free-spirited artist whose son died not long ago and who is now going through a painful divorce. She, like Finbar, is alone and think she prefers it that way. Joe has progressed beyond both of them: He recognizes that neither he nor anyone else truly wants to be alone.

What this film is about, ultimately, is a handful of disparate characters who are feebly, awkwardly coming together. They make connections, while simultaneously trying to resist the urge to connect. In addition to the three mentioned, there is a chubby young girl (Raven Goodwin) and a teen-age library attendant (Michelle Williams), each of whom also, in her own way, seeks contact with the rest of the world.

The humor in the film, written and directed by Thomas McCarthy, comes naturally from the vivid characters he's created. They seem like real people -- credit the low-key, intuitive performances for that -- who happen to have been thrown together.

Peter Dinklage is outstanding as Finbar, with a world-weary, cynical expression that barely masks a yearning for true friendship; he also has a gift for deadpan comedy. Bobby Cannavale couldn't be more likable as Joe, and I have yet to not enjoy Patricia Clarkson in anything she's done. Her character expresses the most emotion here of anyone, and as such provides the film's heart.

It's a big heart, too, there on the sleeve of a pleasingly introspective comedy that, despite being introspective, never takes itself too seriously. I smile just thinking about this film, recalling very few actual lines that made me laugh (though I know there were many), but remembering the general sense of contentment it made me feel. It is the best thing a movie can be: fun to watch.

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originally posted: 06/13/03 07:44:25
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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

11/16/18 Greg I've watched this movie probably 5 times over the years And I'll watch it again 5 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 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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