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The Station Agent

A movie directed by Thomas McCarthy

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Wonderfully underplayed and life affirming

  • Nov 5, 2006
  • by
We've had this movie for the last month, always putting off watching it for one reason or another. It is a very understated movie, with much of the action never commented on directly in the movie, but left up for the viewer to figure out. The plot is simple: Finbar McBride is a dwarf who loses his job when his best friend and boss suddenly dies, leaving him with a train depot in his will. Moving out to the small town where the depot is, all he wants to do is be left alone, but a combination of the Joe, the local Cuban hot dog vendor, and Olivia, a frazzled young mother who is grieving for the loss of her son, forces him to confront his new community, just as they are forced to confront him. Much of the humor comes from Joe, who forces himself into Fin's life, as well as the attempts by Olivia to try to make up for her first impression on Fin.

What's best about this movie is that it gives the actor who plays Fin the ability to show the viewer what it must feel like to be a dwarf, the constant stares and rude comments. But his portrayal isn't meant to invoke sympathy so much as understanding, an understanding that he's come to accept that as his fate, just as much as anyone with any sensitivity should decry it.

There's not a conclusion, per se, but there is a resolution, one that affirms the lives of the characters in the story inasmuch as you can see that they learned something from each other. It's like a small version (no pun intended) of The Breakfast Club or The Big Chill, and I'd recommend it.

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More The Station Agent reviews
review by . November 10, 2013
posted in Movie Hype
Fin (Peter Dinklage) is a middle-aged train buff and a dwarf who has been ridiculed his whole life and has no friends. He moves into an abandoned train station, ready to spend the rest of his life alone, but slowly forms friendships with a grieving woman (Patricia Clarkson), an outgoing hot dog man (Bobby Cannavale), and a young librarian (Michelle Williams).      What a wonderful movie this is! The story is heartwarming and the strong cast is excellent in well-developed roles. …
review by . September 01, 2008
`The Station Agent' is one of those rare movies that lingers through your memory long after having watched it. Not since `Lars and the Real Girl' have I felt this way about a quirky independent film where you fall in love with the characters and marvel at the warmth and eccentricity they elicit.    The movie starts with Finbar McBride (Peter Dinklage, `In Bruges') a dwarf (at least that's the term he prefers, so I'll go along with him) who works as a fix-it man at a used goods …
review by . March 23, 2008
This may well be my second favorite movie ever. Certainly in the top five. Can I explain why? I'm not sure that I can. An attempt: it appeals to the small person inside every single one of us. The one that never quite fits. The one that takes a beating and keeps on ticking. The one that lies down under a train and fails even at that. The one that paints half finished children for the eternal loss that never heals. The one that keeps on knocking until the door finally opens. The one that drinks alone …
review by . June 14, 2007
Finbar McBride is a dwarf. He works with his aging boss at the Golden Spike, a shop for model railroad and train enthusiasts. His boss dies suddenly leavin Fin a dilapidated old train station in the middle of nowhere New Jersey.     The story revolves around the lonely Fin, the lonely Joe who operates a hot dog truck, the lonely Olivia grieving over her lost child and marriage and Emily, the librarian, who is lonely in a different way.     It's a stark little …
review by . March 25, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
I love movies like this where the characters are off-beat but totally believable. The three main characters are all somewhat displaced, with Fin, the "little person," inheriting a train station in the middle of nowhere; Olivia staying at a "get-away" home purchased by her husband before he "got away" and still grieving the sudden death of her young son; and Joe, the chatty hot-dog vendor who loves to talk and cook, who has returned to care for his ailing father and run his vending truck. These three …
review by . September 21, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
Taken out of context, the premise for THE STATION AGENT could be the set-up for a great joke: a dwarf who used to be a train engineer and worked at a model train store inherits an old train station near Newfoundland, New Jersey and decides to live a life of solitude and makes it his permanent residence but a pesty Cuban hot-dog vendor and a beautiful female artist won't let him live in peace. It sounds like a comedy, but THE STATION AGENT isn't a comedy. Instead, it's a smart and slightly quirky …
review by . June 16, 2004
THE STATION AGENT is a miniature masterpiece. Director Tom McCarthy has achieved on a small budget, rapid sequence filming, and no frills media use, a film that proves that this art form is alive and well right here in the US. The story is simple but cogent: Finbar McBride (Peter Dinklage) is a dwarf who has been working as a model train maker for an African American store owner Henry Styles (Paul Benjamin), one of the few people that treats him without prejudice. Their relationship is gentle but …
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Glen Engel-Cox ()
Ranked #321
Glen is a forty-something communications professional living near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He grew up in Texas and has also lived inLos Angeles, Colorado, Washington State, and Washington, DC. Glen also … more
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A strong ensemble and director Tom McCarthy's sweetly low-key observations make Sundance faveThe Station Agenta treat. The film revolves around a reserved, somber dwarf (Peter Dinklage, immortalized by his brilliant ticked-off tirade inLiving in Oblivion), a train enthusiast who inherits a small depot in rural New Jersey. He makes friends, somewhat reluctantly, with a group of eccentric locals: the guy at the coffee stand (buoyant Bobby Cannavale), an artist (Patricia Clarkson, impeccable as usual), a librarian (Michelle Williams). A few of the plot strands feel forced, but whenever the actors are simply playing off each other with McCarthy's nicely understated dialogue--which is most of the time--it ambles along winningly. You'll also learn more than you ever thought you'd want to know about trains. The key is Dinklage's smoldering performance, one of those reminders that a single scowl is worth pages of conversation.--Robert Horton
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Director: Thomas McCarthy
Screen Writer: Thomas McCarthy
DVD Release Date: June 15, 2004
Runtime: 89 minutes
Studio: Miramax
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