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Overall Rating

Awesome: 41.75%
Worth A Look55.34%
Just Average: 2.91%
Pretty Crappy: 0%
Sucks: 0%

9 reviews, 49 user ratings

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Station Agent, The
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by Robert Flaxman

"It's a small wonder."
5 stars

Action is all well and good, but there’s definitely something to be said for a quietly comic film that’s merely about the ins and outs of human interaction, and The Station Agent is about as good a film as you’re likely to find in that category. With spare, intelligent writing and direction from first-timer Thomas McCarthy, the film is a restrained look at the way people come together.

Finbar McBride (Peter Dinklage) is a dwarf living in Hoboken, working in a model train shop owned by his only friend, Henry (Paul Benjamin). One day Henry dies and leaves Fin a train station in rural Newfoundland, New Jersey. With few other alternatives, Fin moves into the station. Soon he meets a nearby hot dog vendor, Joe (Bobby Cannavale), and an artist, Olivia (Patricia Clarkson), coping with the death of her son and separation from her husband. The three form an unlikely friendship, while Fin also has encounters with Cleo (Raven Goodwin), a young girl who lives nearby, and Emily (Michelle Williams), who works at the town library.

Unsurprisingly, the film does not shy away from the subject of Fin’s height; it’s obvious that he’s learned to deal with people treating him as a curiosity, which probably explains why he had only one friend in Hoboken. The key to the friendships Fin makes in Newfoundland is that all of them treat him simply as another person – Cleo brings his height up at first out of curiosity, but doesn’t mention it again, and Joe mentions it once, but compared to the film’s peripheral characters, it’s as if the subject were never even broached. These are merely people becoming friends because they enjoy spending time together.

You’d think such a simple plot – and that plot alone does indeed take up most of the film and certainly is its central focus – would be too dry or become tiresome, but nothing could be further from the truth. Despite their ability to become friends, these characters don’t have much in common except for the fact that they don’t seem to have any other friends, and watching their personalities bounce off each other and start to mesh has a genuine appeal. The comedy in The Station Agent is undeniably subtle – there may not be a single “joke” in the entire film – but it is immaculately delivered. The character interaction is beautifully executed on every level.

Credit McCarthy’s script, but definitely credit the actors. Dinklage, Cannavale, and Clarkson are brilliant as the trio at the heart of the film – their scenes have a genuine intimacy, the sense that these people really just get along well. Feeling isolated from the rest of the world – when Olivia realizes a friend has come to visit, she pretends to be just leaving – the characters are able to find time for each other.

There are some places where The Station Agent could have benefited from a little less sedation. Fin has almost no reaction at all to Henry’s death, and when Olivia takes a near-fatal dose of pills, the film spends about a minute dealing with the matter and then brushes past. It’s not that these are things that had to be made the central focus of the movie, but they’re pretty crucial life moments that, within the confines of the plot, feel more perfunctory. They might as well be macguffins – while the characters move where the plot wants to take them because of these moments, the moments themselves don’t seem to mean anything. In a film that’s all about lonely characters, such moments should mean more than they seem to.

These are but minor blemishes on the film, though. McCarthy has created an insular little world full of characters who, if left to their own devices, would probably find themselves alone; the town of Newfoundland serves as a meeting place for these disparate souls. Their lives are changed in whatever way by virtue of finding each other, and the way they find each other is a joy to watch.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=6913&reviewer=385
originally posted: 11/30/04 11:11:00
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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

11/15/18 Greg I've watched this movie probably 5 times over the years And I'll watch it again 5 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
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  03-Oct-2003 (R)
  DVD: 15-Jun-2004



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