"The Station Agent"
Directed by Thomas McCarthy.
Written by Thomas McCarthy.
Starring Peter Dinklage, Patricia Clarkson and Bobby Canavale.
Release Year: 2003
Review Date: 10/28/03
It’s tough, watching movies about midgets.
Generally speaking, movies use midgets as comic foils, not dramatic
So, it’s especially tough when you are
watching a movie STARRING a dwarf, as “The Station Agent” stars
Peter Dinklage as Fin, a small man living in New Jersey that
inherits a train depot in a deserted part of Newfoundland, NJ. A
quiet individual that is constantly bombarded with verbal abuse due
to his small stature (and, nearly every midget joke that can be made
IS made in the first 15 minutes of the movie), he moves to his
inherited property and begins a new life with new friends, including
a coffee vendor named Joe (Bobby Cannavale) and a wife (Patricia
Clarkson) separated from her husband of 17 years. The threesome
take up an oddball friendship, while Fin also makes friends in the
form of a librarian (Michelle Williams, from “Dawson’s Creek”) and a
schoolgirl named Cleo (Raven Goodwin, from
“Lovely and Amazing”).
I’m pretty sure that I have never seen a
film like this; on a strange note, much like the horrific film
“Gerry”, so much film time is spent watching one character walk from
place to place that this could easily be made into a 45-minute
film. Seriously, at 88 minutes, if you take away all of the scenes
where writer/director Thomas McCarthy just gives us Fin walking from
his house to the store, the library or the wife’s house, you’ve got
a 50-minute film, tops. Sure, it wouldn’t be as good, but it would
cut down on the number of times we have to watch Fin walk
somewhere. But, that’s the point, really—what a struggle it must be
for someone that is 4’7” to always walk everywhere (Fin doesn’t hold
a driver’s license). What a struggle it must be to walk down a road
and have guys yell vulgarities at you just because you are a
35-year-old guy that is shorter than some people’s kids. Or, what a
struggle it must be to not be able to drive because you really can’t
reach the gas pedal!
McCarthy does a good job of putting us in
the lap of a midget without running over the cliché line with all of
this midget nonsense that almost every person Fin meets in the movie
seems to be obsessed with. The performance by Dinklage is
fantastic; of course, I came into this film thinking that Dinklage’s
greatest role came in “Living in Oblivion”; he’s only in one scene,
but damn, it is hilarious! You need to see it, and it’s a great
movie to boot...the other performances in “The Station Agent” are
also strong, especially Clarkson as the clumsy wife that nearly gets
Fin killed in their first (and second) meeting. Funny stuff!
The film is over so fast that I was looking
for more hangin’ out scenes with the core threesome, and like I
mentioned earlier, there really are too many scenes featuring Fin
just walking around the dead zone that is Newfoundland. Otherwise,
this was some good stuff.
Rating: $9.50 Show
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard