When his only friend and co-worker dies, a young man born with dwarfism moves to an abandoned train depot in rural New Jersey. Though he tried to maintain a life of solitude, he is soon entangled with an artist who is struggling with a personal tragedy and an overly friendly Cuban hot-dog vendor. Written by
A note-perfect little film that draws you in with the slightest of touches to produce a wonderful little film that is well acted, well written and well directed
Finbar has lived all his life with dwarfism and has carved out a pleasantly quiet living working in the back room of a model train shop. When the owner dies suddenly, Fin finds himself without a place of employment but with the inheritance of a patch of land and an old railway depot. Moving up there, he finds the usual pointing and staring and just continues his shut off existence. However a literal run-in with woman suffering loss and an overfriendly coffee stand vendor mean that he is forced to do something he has never really done before have friends.
Maybe it is because its plot-lite, quirky nature is aimed at the same crowd that was still busy talking about Lost in Translation but The Station Agent seemed to be gone from the cinemas almost as quickly as it entered it. Not unusual even in a big city like Birmingham generally non-blockbusters are only given a week, two at most before they are shunted off the screens by something else; but for it to happen to a film that easily matches Lost in Translation for sheer quirky humour and genuine emotional involvement is a real shame because this is a film that I will recommend (but not hype) to anyone who will listen to me. In terms of story, not much happens but three rather solitary souls come together, becoming friends but also bringing all their issues, baggage and problems with them. In terms of substance this is where it is at as the well written script allows Fin's seclusion to be part of him, Joe's innocently friendly nature to be as real as his speed to be wounded while the complexity of Olivia's friendship with Fin is never as simple as it would seem if I were just to state it here. It slowly draws you in with its gentle nature but it really does deliver an engaging and touching story.
The quirky touch and the gentle humour is very well observed even though at points it was rather obviously delivered with the use of 'quirky' music and strange looking shots. It is this that sets a very nice foundation for the deeper stuff that is to come and helps us buy into the characters early on so that we are there when we need to be. This quirky tone goes across the whole film and I think the only way I can describe it is to call it 'lovely'; it was lovely and it produced a delightful film that is easy to settle into and really enjoy. Dinklage is excellent; he is almost silent at times but gradually grows and you can see in his face his issues but also him struggling to come to terms with this sudden acceptance he appears to be being given as well as his own desire to trust people where he has never had a reason to before. It is very easy to praise Clarkson for strong performances but she has done it yet again with a performance that makes her character so layered but also so revealing without ever being obvious. Cannavale is given less story and character to work with but he makes the most of it and effortlessly avoids the 'yaw bro' cliché that he could easily have been and produces a sensitive, likable and sympathetic character with comparatively little material. The film has others in it but these three are the core and, with three wonderful leads how could the film have been anything less than it was?
Overall this is a very slight film that ends as quietly as it began and has little in the way of plot in between. However it has a wonderful mood delivered by unfussy direction, a unobtrusive and fitting score, wonderfully written characters and three wonderful lead performances. Missed by many on its cinema release, this is a wonderful little film that I hope will continue to surprise those that come across it during the coming years on DVD, cable and television.
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