The Station Agent (2003)
October 16, 2020 8:46 PM - Subscribe

When his only friend dies, a man born with dwarfism moves to rural New Jersey to live a life of solitude, only to meet a chatty hot dog vendor and a woman dealing with her own personal loss.

Brief synopsis: Fin (Peter Dinklage) works for his friend Henry at a model train shop and lives in an apartment upstairs. When Henry dies, the shop is closed and Fin moves to an abandoned train depot in rural New Jersey that Henry left him. There Fin meets Joe (Bobby Cannavale) who operates a food truck and the divorced Olivia (Patricia Clarkson). Eventually he meets other people in the area including Cleo, a little girl who wanders around, and Emily the librarian.

Wikipedia as always has the goods on the movie's reception and the accolades it earned. Peter Dinklage is brilliant as Finbar McBride, a man who wants solitude, but can't help but start to care about the people entering his life. Clarkson is radiant as always as Olivia, a woman who wants solitude in her own way to hide a grief. Bobby Cannavale's Joe is a character of many layers, seemingly unable to sit quietly and to bear solitude, but quite deep and perceptive. Tom McCarthy wrote and directed; his screenplay won a BAFTA and an Independent Spirit Award.

Ebert in his review sums things up well:
It is a great relief in any event that "The Station Agent" is not one of those movies in which the problem is that the characters have not slept with each other and the solution is that they do. It's more about the enormous unrealized fears and angers that throb beneath the surfaces of their lives; Finbar and Olivia could explode in one way or another at any moment, and the hyperactive Joe is capable of anything.
Poster's thoughts:
I've seen this movie twice all the way though. The three leads are all great. Dinklage owns the movie. Supporting players are all well cast and well played. It is engrossing; only ninety minutes long and when it comes to an end, it leaves me wanting more.

This is a great movie as well as it is right at the dawn of cell phones being something most everyone carries with them, but they are still surprised when the phone rings and explaining how they have a phone. That really stands out now going on twenty years later.

And of course, there is the great unanswered question: why does Joe (and apparently his dad before him) park his food truck everyday on a side road in rural NJ?
posted by Fukiyama (10 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
This movie is a quiet treasure. Finbar is so utterly perfect at being Finbar and Dinklage was masterful.
posted by davidmsc at 11:03 PM on October 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

I absolutely adore this movie. It's just so warm and raw and human. It also captures the awkwardness of human relationships in a way that a lot of others gloss over.

Dinklage is outstanding as the quiet man and I remember watching this and thinking he deserved to be a household name. I've been singing his praises and recommending this movie to anyone who brings up Game of Thrones to me.
posted by slimepuppy at 2:45 AM on October 17, 2020 [2 favorites]

We watched this a few years ago, thinking it was a different movie, but I absolutely loved it. Dinklage is amazing as always, but I though Bobby Cannavale was great as well, much more so that he usually is in other movies.
posted by briank at 6:52 AM on October 17, 2020 [2 favorites]

Just dropping in to say that this is my favorite Peter Dinklage role, my favorite Patricia Clarkson role, my favorite Bobby Cannavale role. And it's been a few years since I saw this movie...
posted by kingless at 7:27 AM on October 17, 2020 [3 favorites]

Dinklage is outstanding as the quiet man and I remember watching this and thinking he deserved to be a household name. I've been singing his praises and recommending this movie to anyone who brings up Game of Thrones to me.

I watched it right after GoT started because of Dinklage and I remember loving it. Maybe it's time to revisit.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:05 AM on October 17, 2020

I loved it at the time. Seems like time to re-watch. I loved Dinklage in it and this was the movie that showed me Patricia Clarkson's unstoppable sexy charisma.
posted by latkes at 8:34 AM on October 17, 2020

I remember ordering this from our local Indie DVD rental store specifically because I'd been so impressed with Dinklage in Living In Oblivion which I had seen a few years before.

He's not in it for very long, but when he is in it he's very impactful.

I got indie kudos with the shop staff after that.

Good times.
posted by Faintdreams at 1:01 PM on October 17, 2020

This is a truly great little film which feels very much itself. It came out somewhat before the quirky indie film became a bit of a thing and benefits from that. It feels like something different and is a film is recommend to most people.

The first time I saw it it was recommended to me by my parents who lent me the dvd. I somehow, I guess based on the name, convinced myself that it was Italian, so wanting to make sure I got the correct experience I made sure the dialogue was in Italian and the subtitles were on.

So for the first ten minutes I watched an Italian dub of an American film for no reason other than s snobbery at an imagined dub. I did cotton on once I noticed that every sign was in English and that the lips were out of sync...
posted by Cannon Fodder at 11:59 PM on October 17, 2020 [2 favorites]

this movie is deeply charming. I grew up in that part of New Jersey, not so often featured in movies.
posted by supermedusa at 11:46 AM on October 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

not so often featured in movies.

Was Ghost Dog set in that area? Because watching The Station Agent I got "Ghost Dog but in the daylight" vibes from the setting.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 8:12 AM on October 19, 2020

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