The Station Agent
February 14, 2011
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I don’t know why it took me so long to see this movie. Now that I have, I would love to experience it all over again. Twice recently I’ve finished a movie only to leave it in my Netflix queue for another go around. First Buried, now The Station Agent.
Peter Dinklage stars as Fin, train enthusiast who inherits an unmanned train depot when his friend and employer dies. There he meets an energetic hot-dog/coffee truck salesman named Joe. Joe immediately becomes fascinated with Fin and over time they form an unlikely friendship. Along the way, both men pine for Olivia, a woman who is as lost as they are. Fin looks to live a life of isolation and trains. Joe is lost in a dead-end job as a his father slowly recovers from sickness. Olivia is trying to get over an unhealthy separation from her husband. Together, they become close friends.
Director Thomas McCarthy, who went on to direct the well-nuanced The Visitor, does a brilliant job of allowing silence it’s due. Today’s films are so obsessed with filling every frame with something, but McCarthy crafts a film, which he also wrote, that lets the characters sit so we can feel their helplessness and isolation. A brilliant film that I would probably retroactively put on my Best of the Decade ’00s list (the film was released in 2003).
Yes, Peter Dinklage is a dwarf. You quickly forget that as the film goes on. He is so powerful that his presence is larger than life. He proves himself as capable or even more so than any modern-day actor. This is his breakthrough role that should have given him an Oscar nomination, but that year was already tight with Jude Law, Sean Penn, and Bill Murray all up for the same award. A brilliant and perfect film. 5 out of 5 stars.