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Overall Rating
4.38

Awesome: 41.18%
Worth A Look55.88%
Just Average: 2.94%
Pretty Crappy: 0%
Sucks: 0%

9 reviews, 48 user ratings


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Station Agent, The
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by Rob Gonsalves

"A solid, if overpraised, vehicle for Peter Dinklage."
4 stars

Loneliness is the subject of 'The Station Agent,' a good independent film that's been just a tad overpraised. I enjoyed it; there's nothing much the matter with it, except that it's about as much an indie film at heart as 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' was.

The movie stars Peter Dinklage, a deadpan comic actor who stands four feet, five inches, and who managed to steal 1995's filmmaking-is-hell comedy Living in Oblivion in one brief scene in which his character, a disdainful actor playing the standard freaky-dream dwarf in an indie drama, took frazzled director Steve Buscemi to task: "Who dreams of dwarves?" he said, mocking wannabe-Lynchian directors' overuse of little people as weird harbingers of sleep logic. "Even I don't dream of dwarves."

Dinklage, much the best reason to see the movie, brings what must be a lifetime of weathering insults and morbid curiosity to his role as Fin McBride, a stoic hermit with a fascination for trains. His elderly friend and co-worker at a model-train shop keels over, bequeathing Fin a run-down, inoperative train depot in Newfoundland, New Jersey. The description of the area ("There's nothing out there, I mean nothing") seems to intrigue Fin more than the promise of poking around in sidelined traincars. He takes up residence in the depot office and looks forward to peace and quiet. Surely no one will point and snicker at him here. Solitude at last.

Enter a pair of noisily needy neighbors: Olivia (Patricia Clarkson), a neurotic wreck who nearly runs Fin over twice, and Joe (Bobby Cannavale), a too-friendly guy taking over his old man's coffee-vendor van. Olivia is recovering from some deep losses, and finds in Fin a comforting, if unwilling, ear for her troubles. Joe, going crazy with boredom and loneliness out here in the sticks, keeps pestering Fin to hang out, knock back a cold one, go for walks. Fin himself has nothing to do with either person's fixation on him -- he could just as easily be anyone else in the world. They need his company, just at a time when he's not looking for any. The joke is that Olivia and Joe are both too self-absorbed to notice Fin's height. And of course the more standoffish he is, the more enticing he becomes as a hard-to-get friend.

The movie is about how these three form a sort of bond, with the good-hearted Joe holding things together. Points to writer-director Tom McCarthy for understanding that one subtle wince from the been-there-in-real-life Dinklage speaks louder than any tearjerking backstory McCarthy might've invented for Fin. Kudos also for denying simplistic closure to any of the subplots, like Olivia's conflicts with her stick-figure estranged husband, or Joe's ailing dad. I did wonder, though, how Fin makes his money; he's shown puttering around the model-train shop at the beginning, but after that he seems to have a bottomless wallet for groceries and bills, with no visible income. "I'm retired," he says at one point, and maybe he is independently wealthy, but the movie never clarifies.

McCarthy also lets a flirtation between Fin and nice librarian Michelle Williams (in an appealing performance) fade away unresolved. The emotional throughline of The Station Agent is the shaky alliance between Fin, Joe, and Olivia, which survives not one but two suicide attempts. The performances are first-rate (Bobby Cannavale's garrulous regular-guy Joe made me laugh a lot), the direction and writing clean and unobtrusive, yet all it ends up saying is that friendship is nice. I also didn't need the Acting Moments, like the drunken dark-night-of-the-soul scene in which Fin climbs up atop a bar and demands "Take a look!" -- it's the indie-film version of grandstanding.

'The Station Agent' is a good film that can easily be mistaken for a great film in a time of bad films.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=6913&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/08/07 22:25:17
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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
8/23/10 RLan a decent movie with a solid cast but it was slow at times. 3 stars
11/14/09 Liberty Man. Ditto to Annie G said. A pleasure to watch 4 stars
9/13/08 Annie G Extremely enjoyable film about friendship and life. 5 stars
3/02/08 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
4/28/07 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
5/15/06 Indrid Cold Hits all the right indie notes and almost none of the wrong ones. Dinklage is brilliant. 4 stars
8/29/05 ES Interesting, some comedy, sympathic main character 4 stars
8/14/05 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
4/07/05 Rocco L Nazzaro Very good storyline about strangers that become friends. 4 stars
1/30/05 Darryl Wonderful characters and performances. A true gem. 5 stars
1/21/05 Tjalda L. Schiel Wonderful stuff. 5 stars
1/15/05 Jeff Anderson LIVING IN OBLIVION'S scene stealing Peter Dinklage is absolutely terrific in this movie! 5 stars
12/30/04 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
12/16/04 Carl Utterback Truly funny and unforced. 5 stars
11/26/04 DM Not bad at all 4 stars
10/06/04 Rob P S Beautifully written and acted. 5 stars
9/28/04 Harry D A true gem. Fin's deadpan presence & honest dialogue won me over. 5 stars
8/09/04 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
7/20/04 Danny Smith Gently humorous 4 stars
6/30/04 AlonsoGo Made me squirm but left a lasting grin on my face 4 stars
6/24/04 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
4/16/04 alien assassin A film like this is worth a hundred "mainstream" flicks 5 stars
3/18/04 Fennie Mao Great movie for the whole family to enjoy. 4 stars
3/18/04 Jim Hollingsworth Great movie! It had me looking inside as much as at the movie! 5 stars
2/20/04 Matthew Smith a delightful film with plenty if heartfelt moments and very funny scenes 5 stars
2/18/04 cj Addictive! - a wonderful movie to see again and again. 5 stars
2/09/04 Liz Skipper Best picture I've seen since "The Way Home" [Korean] last year. So natural...so wonderful! 5 stars
1/20/04 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
12/27/03 Lorrie Rabin Wonderful movie! 5 stars
11/18/03 malcolm a pleasant little movie--a valuable lesson in minimalism 3 stars
11/06/03 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
10/27/03 Deanna Fountain outstanding 5 stars
10/04/03 HH The best film I have seen so far this year 5 stars
9/17/03 Jeff Goldman A Masterpiece 5 stars
9/15/03 Hal Klegen The best film I saw all year! 5 stars
9/15/03 Nancy James Excellent!!!! 5 stars
9/15/03 April Connors Wonderful film!! 5 stars
9/10/03 Nick Hatalski Awesome film - A Must See 5 stars
7/19/03 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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