All of us are familiar with the story of strangers meeting by chance, and typically this is a story of two people who may or may not fall in love. Tom McCarthy’s The Station Agent takes a refreshingly different route and describes the story of three incompatible strangers who manage to form a friendship.
Fin is a man born with dwarfism, who relocates to a country-like area in New Jersey after his only friend in life dies, leaving Fin a train depot. Fin moves in hoping to avoid all contact with the outside world and continue living his life in solitude. He realizes this isn’t easy, however, when within the first few days he literally runs into an artsy, middle-aged woman named Olivia and an over-friendly Cuban guy named Joe.
Although Fin tries to avoid Joe and his food truck called “Gorgeous Franks,” there seemingly is not much to do in the area and Joe is eager to make a new friend in Fin, while Olivia is a woman who lost her young son and now lives alone, and she seeks conversation with Fin as well. Eventually Fin gives in, and the characters begin to spend time together, slowly learning more about each other as the film goes on.
Overall, this was a mildly tender film that may not seem particularly special but somehow stays with you afterwards. The cast was excellent and kept your eyes glued to the screen, even when no dialogue was spoken.
Peter Dinklage (Elf, Nip/Tuck, Threshold) does a great job playing Fin, a man who learns it’s better to face society rather than hide from it, while Bobby Cannavale, (Third Watch, Will & Grace, Ally McBeal) an actor whose face you know if not his name, is excellent as the persistent Joe.
However, what drew me to the film, and who stole the show, was Patricia Clarkson (Six Feet Under, Shutter Island, The Green Mile.) Clarkson has been known for her small roles in film and television, although no matter how small they are always powerful. Here we see the actress share ample screen time with her co-stars, and she definitely keeps the film afloat when viewers might think it’s sinking.
Overall, 2003’s The Station Agent is a film that’ll show you how loneliness is better experienced with the company of others. The DVD features deleted scenes and a feature commentary with the director and actors.