THE STATION AGENT, nicely written and directed by Thomas McCarthy, is a
character study about three very different people who come together for
friendship and companionship in the tiny town of Newfoundland, New Jersey. The
story itself is unusual since it is a movie that stars a dwarf, but it isn't
about being a dwarf. As 4' 5" Finbar "Fin" McBride, Peter Dinklage is a very
serious, reserved and taciturn guy who is a million miles away from the Mini Me
stereotypes we've come to expect in films. The charming movie, which has few
missteps, goes awry only on those few occasions when it overemphasizes a few of
the clich‚s about very short people.
Fin's passions are everything having to do with trains. In the story, he has
just inherited an old train station on a half acre of land in Newfoundland.
Although he'd be happy never to speak to anyone, he isn't given that
opportunity. Working at a small canteen near the train station, Joe Oramas
(Bobby Cannavale) is a gregarious guy who is constitutionally incapable of
being quiet. He insists on being Fin's new friend, no matter how many ways Fin
tries to turn him away.
Olivia Harris (Patricia Clarkson, PIECES OF APRIL), the third member of the
group, is a recently separated woman who has come to the country to try to get
away from her troubles. She is unable to forgive herself because she looked
away for a brief moment while her only son was playing on the monkey bars. She
doesn't talk much about her dead son, but his memory clearly haunts her.
Olivia, a notoriously bad driver in this frequently funny story, meets Fin
after she runs him down with her car, not once but twice in the same day, as he
walks along the road. When she tries to make amends by dropping by to see him,
she tells him when he opens the door, "You're safe -- no car." He looks
completely unconvinced but reluctantly agrees to let her in anyway.
The characters are all worth caring about, and, although the story eschews any
overly dramatic moments, it is a touching one nonetheless. The fine
performances by Dinklage and Clarkson are particularly memorable. The film
also features some lovely visuals of the characters walking along the train
tracks. When you leave the theater, you'll be glad that you chose a movie with
such genuine characters who had such a heartfelt story to tell.
THE STATION AGENT runs 1:28. It is rated R for "language and some drug
content" and would be acceptable for teenagers.
Copyright © 2003 Steve Rhodes