Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Feature commentary with director
Thomas McCarthy; 5 deleted scenes.
QUITE often, its the little things in life which can make
the biggest impression, and so it is with The Station Agent, a
smart, independent feature, about a dwarf who finds himself through
the friendships he forms while attempting to build a new life.
Peter Dinklage is the dwarf in question, a 4ft 5ins tall train
enthusiast, named Fin, who is all too happy to move to the station
depot he has inherited from a recently deceased friend and co-worker,
in order to get away from being stared at by everyone in the city.
Content with his seclusion, in what seems to be one of the most
abandoned districts of New Jersey, Fin sets about indulging in
his passion for walking the railways, but finds himself making
friends with some of the areas more eccentric inhabitants,
including Bobby Cannavales happy-go-lucky chatterbox, who
is operating his sick fathers snack truck outside Finns
depot, and Patricia Clarksons estranged wife and artist,
who is still coming to terms with the death of her son.
What begins as a tentative alliance, quickly develops into an
important bond, as the friendship between the trio helps them
to confront personal demons, as well as helping them to enjoy
life once more.
Written and directed by first-timer, Tom McCarthy, The Station
Agent is a genuinely heart-warming character study, which excels
in just about every department, from performances, right down
to pacing and script.
The cast, without exception, are
exemplary, with Dinklage, especially, on mesmerising form as Fin,
whose self-contempt is borne out of peoples reaction towards
As he soberly states, at one stage, it's really funny how
people see me and treat me, since I'm really just a simple, boring
person, for people either make fun, or sympathise, with
him, in equal measure.
Dinklage expertly taps into the frustration felt by his character,
making his journey towards self-respect and happiness all the
more rewarding, and creating several poignant, but not overly
sentimental, moments along the way.
Sure, he takes us to the depths of despair, but his path to recovery
never feels as manipulative as it might in the hands of a more
showy director, while his interaction with both Cannavale and
Clarkson is really well handled, and never mawkish.
McCarthy, too, deserves acclaim for the way in which he strikes
a near-perfect balance between the humour and sadness, allowing
viewers to laugh out loud at some points, while fending off the
tears at others.
The way in which he introduces Fin to Clarksons emotional
Olivia is genuinely funny, as is a sight gag involving the arrival
of her estranged husband on the morning after she has had her
new-found friends over to stay.
And yet such moments are neatly offset by the weightier moments,
during which Fin and co are forced to confront their demons, and
make some form of progress along lifes path. There really
ought not to be a viewer among you, who doesnt root for
them in some way.
The Station Agent deservedly won the Audience Award when it played
at the Sundance Film Festival, in 2003, an award which is thoroughly
It may operate on a small scale, but its achievements are
of the highest calibre. Make sure that it doesnt get overlooked
from your schedule.