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March 15, 2004 | by  | in Film |
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The Station Agent

This is a bloody good movie – go see it if you can. Simple and heartfelt: just like writer-director Tom McCarthy’s first full-length feature film.

The Station Agent follows a dwarf named Finn (Peter Dinklage) as he moves into an old train depot in Newfoundland, New Jersey. The peace and quiet of small town America seems to suit the taciturn Finn, but Joe, the loudmouth coffee wagon operator who parks outside Finn’s depot, challenges Finn’s insular existence. Joe (Bobby Cannavale) is utterly bored by the temporary gig that has torn him away from Manhattan, and tries ever so hard to forge a friendship with the reluctant Finn. At the same time, Finn has a series of run-ins with Olivia (Patricia Clarkson), a divorcee still struggling with the death of her only child. The three form an odd trio who find friendship opens the doors to a richer life.

This movie has no special effects, no great missions upon which the world depends, no promotional juggernaut – about the only thing The Station Agent and the LOTR trilogy have in common is dwarves – yet McCarthy’s film is just as worthy of praise. The acting is top notch: it’s a shame that there will be so few good roles for the four-foot-something Dinklage, and Cannavale is so hilarious as the chatty Joe he very nearly steals the movie. Thankfully McCarthy is able to blend genuinely funny scenes created from simple moments – eating beef jerky on a rail bridge – with human dilemmas like death, love and difference. Throughout there is a tenderness, an emotional honesty, which is utterly refreshing.

The main character may be a dwarf, and the film certainly does a good job of presenting the difficulties such people face. It’s a story we can all identify with. McCarthy’s film is really a portrait of the risks and rewards of letting others see your vulnerable side.

And if funny and touching aren’t enough to get you into the theatre, perhaps the promise of a lot of train-speak will tip the balance? Maybe not. Did I mention Dawson’s Creek’s Michelle Williams also features? C’mon, make the trip to the lovely ’burb of Brooklyn (the Penthouse is the only place showing it at the moment); you won’t regret it.

Directed by Tom McCarthy

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