Thursday, June 28, 2007

Movie Mini Review: The Station Agent

Title: The Station Agent

Cast: Peter Dinklage, Bobby Cannavale, Patricia Clarkson

Plot summary:
Finbar McBride, a railroad enthusiast living in New Jersey, inherits a remote train depot when his best friend and business associate dies. A confirmed loner, Finbar isn't prepared for the small-town friendliness of rural Newfoundland, New Jersey.

My thoughts:

The story is seemingly simple.

A life of being constantly mocked because of his dwarfism has left Fin to prefer solitude to the derisive laughter other people. He takes solace in his passion for trains, a hobby that allows him to keep his social circle small.

So when his only friend dies and leaves him an abandoned train depot in remote Newfoundland, New Jersey, Fin looks forward to an early retirement alone with his hobby.

When he arrives in his new home, he is unprepared for the overt friendliness he encounters. Despite his repeated hints that he prefers to be left alone, extroverted hot dog vendor Joe Oramas perseveres in his overtures for friendship. Before long the two are sharing lunches together in the parking lot of Fin's train depot.

Fin also meets flighty artist Olivia Harris after she nearly runs him down in her SUV. Twice.

Through a series of simple interactions, the three become fast friends. They come to care about each other deeply and even to depend upon each other.

Joe, who can't stand to be alone, depends on the others for companionship. ("Hey listen, if you guys do something later, can I join you?" "We're not gonna do something." "No, I know, but if you do, can I join you?" "We're not gonna do something later." "Okay, but, if you do?" "Okay...")

Fin, who has had very few true friends, learns that not everyone is out to make fun of him, that friendship is possible and that being a friend to others increase his self-worth.

Olivia, who battles depression due to past tragedy, relies on them both to help her come to grips with her loss.

There's no huge, dramatic climax. Sure, we see the characters go through some strife. All friendships do. But they end up better friends and as a viewer I ended up wanting to be their friends too.

There's no coincidence that the name of the town is Newfoundland. Fin finds himself in a new world where he values more than the mere loneliness and solitude that he thought he wanted.

The characters are compelling and believable. The acting is superb, sincere and understated. The writing is real and strong and at times poetic. The entire film is a study in restraint, and it is better for it.

Some have categorized this film as a comedy, but it really defies categorization. It has funny moments, but it's not really a comedy. It's poignant without being cheesy or moralistic. It's definitely one you should see.

My final rating: Definitely see it again AND buy the DVD.

Favorite quote:
"You said you weren't going to talk to me if I sat here, Joe. "

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  1. I LOOOVE that movie. Love.

    I saw it at the Rio back when it was first released...I was dating Dickhead at the time, and I must admit, had it not been for him taking me to that movie on one of our first dates, I wouldn't have ever known it existed, I don't think. It's one of my all-time faves now.

  2. Thanks for the review. I've been looking for something this weekend and I'll have to check it out.


  3. r.sherman, you won't regret renting this one. Stop back by and let me know what you think after you've watched it.

  4. Just added it to my Netflix.

  5. I loved this film. It's funny and charming, and beautiful to look at. True, absolutely nothing happens, but you can't have everything.

  6. hate to sound like a broken record here, but I too ADORE this movie! I mean whats not to like? big goofy guy, hot chicks and a tiny man! It is all that you said and more. I cry like a little girl every time I see the look on Fin's face when his boss drops dead. The panic and pain, and almost immediate acceptance of death, and aloneness he feels in the span of 3 mins is just amazing.


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