The Station Agent

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The ViewAuckland Review

Review byMatthew Turner23/10/2003

Five out of Five stars
Running time: 90 mins

A bona fide Indie gem – well-written, beautifully shot and superbly acted, this is funny, touching and extremely enjoyable. One of the best films of…er…next year.

The Station Agent is the debut of writer-director Tom McCarthy – it arrives at the London Film Festival having already won Best Screenplay, Best Actress and the Audience Award for Best Drama at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The accolades are richly deserved, as this is a beautifully made, funny and touching drama with terrific characters.

Train-Obsessed Dwarf

Peter Dinklage stars as Fin McBride, a handsome dwarf obsessed with trains who inherits a disused station house in rural New Jersey after his model train shop boss and best friend dies. A solitary man, Fin just wants to be left alone, but he finds he can’t get away from two of the locals: motor-mouthed hot dog vendor Joe (Bobby Cannavale), who’s stationed outside his house every day, and grieving local artist Olivia (Indie Queen Patricia Clarkson), who nearly runs him over twice on his first day.

In spite of himself, and in no small part thanks to the ‘won’t take no for an answer’ efforts of Joe, Fin finds himself drawn into a genuine friendship with both Olivia and Joe. He also befriends a curious local black girl (Raven Goodwin from Lovely & Amazing) who shares his train obsession and even begins a romance with the town’s sexy young librarian, Emily (Michelle Williams).

Though nothing much really happens in the film, the joy is in the interaction between the three main characters and watching their relationship develop as Fin gradually raises his barriers. McCarthy handles his material sensitively, never over-playing it for easy tear-jerking moments, though there are plenty of moving scenes.


The film is beautifully acted by all three leads – Dinklage in particular is a real find and it’s heart-breaking to think that he’ll probably get landed with Comedy Dwarf parts from now on. (Sure enough, he can be seen in the trailers for Elf).

Clarkson is as wonderful as always – interestingly, McCarthy allows the audience to work out for themselves why Olivia behaves the way she does, trusting in Clarkson’s subtle performance to give us enough clues.

The film is positively brimming with great scenes – highlights include: Fin teaching Joe about train-chasing; Fin and Joe’s frequent walks along the train tracks (“walking the Right of Way”); Fin’s first meeting with Emily and the delightful final scene.

In short, this is unmissable, the sort of film you genuinely don’t want to end. Unquestionably one of the best films of this year’s London Film Festival, it’s also a strong early contender for the Best Films of 2004. Highly recommended.

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The Station Agent
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Content updated: 25/01/2020 23:55

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