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The Station Agent
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Station Agent More at IMDbPro »

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Tiny Chipmunk Meets Maxine the Shy Giraffe

Author: Philby-3 from Sydney, Australia
9 March 2004

This is a `Tiny Chipmunk Meets Maxine the Shy Giraffe' movie for adults. An unlikely friendship grows up between a reclusive train-loving dwarf, a gregarious Latino hot dog vendor and a fragile woman still mourning the loss of her young son. All this takes place in a small town improbably (but actually) called Newfoundland in the backblocks of New Jersey. Not a huge amount happens but we get to know the characters who turn out to be good for each other.

Fin the train aficionado (Peter Dinklage) is a little touchy about his size (four feet or so) but after a while, as you get to know him, it ceases to be important. He says he's just an ordinary uninteresting person despite his freaky size, but `uninteresting' is selling himself a bit short. (Sorry). A local schoolgirl (Raven Goodwin) takes an interest in him and gets him to talk to her class but it takes an unashamed extrovert like Joe the hot dog man (Bobby Cannavale) to bring him out of himself. Towards the end of the movie Fin is hurtling along the trackside in Joe's van videoing the New York and Susquehanna freight express, something he would never have done without Joe's urging.

Fin's relationship with the damaged Olivia (Patricia Clarkson) is a bit more difficult. He is attracted to her more than she is to him. She is still haunted by the memory of her son and still has issues with her ex-husband. In short she is a pretty distracted lady (her driving certainly shows that). Yet she, Fin and Joe find a mutual comfort zone.

Despite the lack of overt drama there is plenty of tension between the characters and I wouldn't describe it as a dull film. It's a pleasant tale with some sly humour and characters you rapidly come to like. Fin's height is an issue, but one which is dealt with sympathetically (though I would have been very surprised had it been otherwise). And, at the end of the day, why can't Tiny and Maxine be friends?

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Simple slice of life

Author: penseur from Wellington
5 March 2004

This is one of those films that succeeds on the strength of its characterisation rather than on anything else. The script is so simple as to be plausible, although there are still things that made me wonder: doesn't Fin have any belongings prior to moving into the depot? Isn't walking over railway ballast for any distance quite uncomfortable and doesn't the railway company care about this practice? Isn't it a rather too tranquil spot to have a profitable hot dog stand? And why are Joe, Olivia, Emily etc so endeared to Fin when he is so asocial? Still go and see it, it's an enjoyable change from Hollywood, and who knows there may be part 2 of the story.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A Wonderful Film About Being a Dwarf

9/10
Author: Tom Murray (tamurray@acn.net) from Belleville, Ontario, Canada
19 February 2004

Finbar McBride is a dwarf; Finbar McBride hates being a dwarf; Finbar McBride hates being an object of curiosity, of pity, of ridicule, of rejection. Resignation, reclusiveness and sadness is his solution.

Fin loves trains: everything about trains: trains are big; trains are powerful; trains dwarf everybody. Fin works in a model train shop: in the back room, where he cannot be seen, assembling the models that have been ordered. Fin loves his job; Fin's boss dies; the store is closed. Fin inherits a property in Newfoundland, New Jersey, which contains an abandoned railroad station and several railroad cars.

Fin moves there; the place is just outside a small town; there are few people. Fin likes that. He soon discovers that there are a few people there who seem to accept those who are different. They seek him out. They like him. That is not what he wants. He is too busy with self-pity and self-loathing to have friends. They persist.

The Station Agent is a wonderful film of acceptance and redemption. Peter Dinklage, who plays Fin, is superb for the role, subtly portraying a wide variety of emotions as he moves out of his self-imposed exile from humanity. Those who portray his friends also do so with great sensitivity. The film never seems false; I felt that every scene was convincing and meaningful. I long for a sequel.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Charming story of three lonely people meeting in an allegorical railroad station

Author: WeeWillie from Markham, Ontario
2 February 2004

This is a very neat little movie that combines human pathos and comedy in a way that is rather matter-of-fact, alluring and very absorbing to watch, in spite of its slow progress and low-key approach.

Our hero of the piece is train-enthusiast Finbar McBride (Peter Dinklage) - a dwarf who places great store on being left alone - and it is through his eyes that the story is told. He leaves his home in New York city after unexpectedly inheriting a quiet rural property that has on it some left-overs of the heyday of the railroad, including an abandoned rail station in which he takes up residence.

Into his new retired life's orbit sail two unlikely characters, a garrulous food stand vendor (Bobby Cannavale), and a chaotic middle-aged but pretty artist with a past (Patricia Clarkson), and in time we see that they are as numbingly lonely as McBride himself.

In spite of his earnest and pointed efforts, McBride is unable to hold these people at bay, eventually forced into a reluctant acceptance of them in his life. Indeed, in keeping with the title of the movie, he gradually becomes the unwilling leader or focus-figure among them, for he has a strength and self-sufficiency the others lack.

Each of their lives is touched by others in the movie, but this only serves to illustrate how completely they have ceased to identify with the rest of the world.

This is a clever allegory of people meeting on a railway platform, where they have nothing in common except that they are there to catch the train. There is little danger of the story leaving you bored, for the main characters are interesting and charming, and in time you will like them all three.

I highly recommend this elegant little film, for it is the sort of gem that comes along but rarely.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A welcome surprise

Author: e-harris-1 from London
8 January 2004

An unusual and enjoyable film. Superb acting, especially by the very charismatic lead character. A welcome change from the usual Hollywood blockbuster. Strongly recommended for an audience who doesn't always need a diet of car chases, gunfights and sex. The sort of film that stays with you long after you've seen it.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A Buddy Film With Depths of Laughter and Sadness

8/10
Author: Ralph Michael Stein (riglltesobxs@mailinator.com) from New York, N.Y.
19 December 2003

"The Station Agent" is one of the finer indie flicks to hit an unfortunately small but select number of screens this year. Director and screenplay author Thomas McCarthy sets this short story in New Jersey's rural drabness, his characters being the sparks of life.

There are only three characters who matter. Four feet, five inches tall Finbar McBride is played with depth and intensity by Peter Dinkelage. Fin, who loves the lore of the railroads of a bygone epoch, repairs model trains in a shop owned by his boss and close friend, Henry. Very early on Henry departs this world bequeathing to Fin a former railroad station replete with remarkably well-conditioned rail cars from the age of steam. Fin journeys, the last stage on foot, to take possession, a simple act almost prevented by the zanily erratic driving of Olivia Harris, a perfect role for the redoubtable Patricia Clarkson.

Arriving at his new domain Fin encounters garrulous Hispanic Manhattanite Joe Oramos, Bobby Carnavale, who is operating his ailing dad's luncheon wagon in the middle of almost nowhere next to the station.

Fin encountered biting and cruel taunts about his dwarfism before relocating to the countryside and the pattern of staring and mindless barbs continues. Used to being alone, afraid to trust others, he slowly warms to the almost irrepressible Joe, who can't perceive a rejection or an insult, while also forging a strong bond with Olivia. Carnavale is very good, projecting a probably natural exuberance.

Olivia, an artist separated from her husband, is still in deep mourning for the death of her little boy, Sam, in the kind of freak accident all parents dread and none can wholly and assuredly prevent. Clarkson is a remarkable actress who effortlessly shifts moods in this film with the same acting skill she employed so effectively in another recent indie film, "Pieces of April." She steals some of the scenes here.

Low budget and low key in the main, "The Station Agent" charts the growth of friendship and interdependence in a non-exploitive and moving journey by three very nice people lucky to have found each other.

New Jersey never looked better for fostering a wonderful relationship.

I hope there will be many more worthwhile films with Patricia Clarkson.

I hope some directors have the sensitivity and intelligence not to pigeonhole Peter Dinkelage into roles for dwarfs. This man is an ACTOR first and he ought to have a range of roles that goes beyond the fact of his genetic inheritance.

8/10.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Don't miss this "small" film

9/10
Author: indyphan from Indianapolis
29 November 2003

The ending could have been better and the character development could have been improved upon but overall this film is outstanding. It certainly deserves some academy award consideration. If you like character driven dramadies, you will love this. I did. DO NOT MISS IT.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

NICE LITTLE STORY - UNUSUAL

8/10
Author: iohefy-2 from Charlotte, NC
19 November 2003

This is not a blockbuster, but it is unusual and very well done. The cast of this film are excellent in the parts they play. It is well worth the trip to the theater so see a film that is different and very entertaining.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Get on board!

8/10
Author: simonrosenbaum from New Malden, England
30 October 2003

This is a wonderful first feature from former actor Tom McCarthy about a man who was born a dwarf. Having inherited an old train depot he retires to enjoy his new surroundings and his interest in trains. Unfortunately for him there's too many people intrigued by him who won't leave him alone. With a superb performance by Peter Dinklage in the central role and great support from Patricia Clarkson (Six Feet Under) and Bobby Cannavale, it has oodles of charm, a lovely musical backdrop and a cool laidback feel. It's funny, warm-hearted and highly recommended. (8/10)

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Walking AND Talking the Right of Way

9/10
Author: David Ferguson (fergusontx@gmail.com) from Dallas, Texas
26 October 2003

Greetings again from the darkness. Due to a scheduling conflict, I was unable to attend the pre-screening of this movie and have been very anxious to see it since. What a remarkable portrait of isolation. Many have mistaken this for loneliness. I believe isolation is the better description as proven by the scene in the bar when Fin (played wonderfully by Peter Dinklage) has had enough and just erupts. His frustration was not so much from the current situation, but from years of feeling like a side show. The acting in this by the 3 main characters is nothing short of superb. We have come to expect nothing less from the fascinating Patricia Clarkson, who as Olivia, is truly the bonding force with our beloved trilogy of outsiders. Bobby Cannavale's Joe is so desperate for friendship that we feel ourselves willing him to keep trying. Of course, the train theme runs throughout and is the metaphor for the personalities of the 3 leads. The additions of Emily (Michelle Williams) and the childhood character of Cleo, show us that the isolation can begin at an early age. Watching Fin present to her class is painfully rewarding for both of them. First time director Thomas McCarthy (Boston Public's Kevin Riley) does a nice job of not rushing any particular scene. These are not fast-paced people and this issue of isolation has no quick fix. I understand the need to end the movie, but personally would have enjoyed another 20 minutes to see the next stage of this developing friendship.

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