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:: The Station Agent

Winner of the Audience Award at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival, The Station Agent marks the debut of writer/director Tom McCarthy. McCarthy explores the themes of isolation and connection in his film that centres on the life of an outsider and the ‘accidental’ friendships he forms with people in his community.

The script for The Station Agent was inspired by an abandoned train station McCarthy saw whilst driving through New Jersey. The role of Finbar, the film's lead character, was the result of McCarthy having a drink with Peter Dinklage and noticing the amount of attention he attracts because of his dwarfism and how he manages to block out the stares and whispers of curious onlookers.
Finbar McBride (Peter Dinklage) is a dwarf who works in a model train shop in Hoboken, New Jersey. When his boss dies and leaves him an abandoned train depot in Newfoundland in rural New Jersey, Finbar decides to go and live in the depot, away from the constant unwanted attention and taunts his physical stature provoke. Away from the city at last, Finbar settles in to a life of blissful solitude - at least that is his plan. He becomes slowly drawn into several friendships with some equally isolated characters, most notably, a hot dog vendor (Bobby Cannavale) and a grieving painter (Patricia Clarkson).

A funny and respectful film, The Station Agent is endearing without being too saccharine and manages to escape the banal ‘feel good movie of the year’ description, even though it might be tempting to call it that. The film operates on a deeper and more subtle level and sensitively encapsulates those feelings of wanting to belong, but not really being able to muster the enthusiasm required to make those all important friendships. The characters almost subconsciously gravitate toward one another, and it is Finbar who realises he has a bigger impact on those around him than he could ever have imagined. Dinklage gives a brilliant performance as Finbar, Patricia Clarkson is manic and dotty as the painter, Olivia and Cannavale is likeable as the motor-mouthed hot dog vendor. A really enjoyable film.