A review of “The Station Agent” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: *** 1/2

Rating: R for language and adult situations

Run Time: 1 hour, 38 minutes

 

 

The Audience Award Winner at this year’s Sundance Fest is every inch worthy of its fulsome kudos.

Finbar McBride (Peter Dinklage) is one of those memorable people; a taciturn dwarf who’s growing tired of the cause-célèbre that his lack of height commands.  Determined to live his life in peace, Fin takes up residence in an abandoned old train depot in rural Newfoundland, New Jersey.  Ah, peace at long last.

Or not.  As soon as Fin steps foot in the door of the dilapidated depot, the local color comes out to play.  The town’s sole roach coach parks parallel to the depot’s tracks, commandeered by an ebullient cook and serial conversationalist (Bobby Cannavale as Joe).  An attractive artist/divorcee named Olivia (Patricia Clarkson) comes calling to offer her apologies after nearly mowing Fin down with her Jeep on a nearby country road.

Three unusual folks with little in common, fleeing from serious commitment with all of their might. Taking refuge in his isolation, Fin is reluctantly drawn into an emotional triangle of outsiders looking in. As the trio gets better acquainted, they gradually open up to life’s possibilities, and the thorny intricacies of each other’s psyches.

The reclusive figure forced to deal with an odd community of loners has been done before, but never better.  The success of “Station” is in large part due to Dinklage, whose short stature belies a powerful, masculine energy that is the crux of the film’s momentum. His no-frills sensitivity is monumentally appealing. Clarkson, a perpetual cinematic treasure, is genius at masking the pain of a tragic accident, and Cannavale’s happy-go-lucky Bobby emanates a thinly-veiled fear of boredom and slowing down.

The script is lean on dialogue but sparkles when it speaks. First time writer/director Tom McCarthy has an innate sense of timing, exhibiting an instinctive flair for spare filmmaking.