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
Fin identifies the train route from Los Angeles to San Francisco as the Starlight Express. In fact, it is the Coast Starlight; "Starlight Express" is the title of an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. See more »
The Station Agent is one of those films where there doesn't seem to be much in the way, at least in conventional terms, of a story being told without dubious circumstance. Whoever Finbar- Fin (Peter Dinklage, in a mostly low-key, appropriately observant performance) meets in the small town of Newfoundland, NJ will either be at some degree of a friend to him, or someone who passes him by and scoffs at his apparent height of four foot five inches. The way writer/director Thomas McCarthey has characters interact with each other is also rewarding, since they come off as solid and believable to their situations (the life-affirming Joe, the sweet and lonely Olivia, the little fascinated girl Cleo, and the young, sexy Emily). And at the same time he doesn't lose sight of the center of the film, which is the obsession with trains. It's a wonderful motif to have with these characters- most especially for Fin- who don't seem to go anywhere much, and are content to watch them go by as they stay put in the town. By the end I felt like I saw a heart-warming comedy, despite the sad moments, as it went for a more human side to actions and dialog, instead of a 'slapstick-because-there's-a-dwarf' ideal to comedies. Fin is a person, and we're given him as a uniquely empathetic persona in Dinklage's performance. A-
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