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The Station Agent

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: The Station Agent

Starring: Peter Dinklage, Patricia Clarkson
Director: Thomas McCarthy
Rated: R
RunTime: 88 Minutes
Release Date: October 2003
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: Bobby Cannavale, Raven Goodwin, Paul Benjamin, Michelle Williams, Maile Flanagan, Ileen Getz, Joe Lo Truglio

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

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

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