|The Station Agent
||[Feb. 19th, 2004|10:19 pm]
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What is it about New Jersey? For some reason, it seems to produce some wonderfully quirky films. Of course, there's Kevin Smith, but also Palookaville and, now, The Station Agent.
It's the story of Finn McBride. Finn is a train geek. He loves trains. He works at a model train shop in Hoboken called "The Golden Spike." Even though he's a geek and something of a loner, he's fairly handsome and always well dressed, if not in a jacket and tie, but at least in a button-up shirt.
Finn's also a 4'5" tall dwarf, but that's not really the point.
When his partner at the Golden Spike dies suddenly, Finn learns he's inherited a depot in Newfoundland, NJ. Finn doesn't drive, so he walks from Hoboken (25.24 miles) to take possession. It's spare, but it becomes home. And Finn welcomes a life of solitude...
..Which is quickly shattered by Joe's Caffe con Leche truck that appears the next morning. Joe's a talker, and he's lonely. He befriends Finn instantly...despite Finn's best efforts.
Then Finn is nearly runover by Olivia, who also becomes Finn's friend...
What's interesting is, the people who become Finn's friends don't really notice that he's a dwarf. Oh, they realise it, but it's just a detail, like being blonde or being Hispanic. The rest of the world sees a "little person," which amuses Finn: "It's funny how people see me and treat me, since I'm really just a simply, boring person." And he is. He walks. He follows trains. He reads about trains. He rolls his own cigarettes. That's about it.
Patricia Clarkson, who plays Olivia, is fast becoming my heroine. Nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Pieces of April (one of my top ten movies of 2003, since I didn't see this one in time for my list), she's also in Miracle and was in Far From Heaven last year. She's incredible. She's never the same, she's 45 but seems ageless, she's always tough, but fragile and just...fierce. There aren't a lot of women actresses like her.
It's a fascinating study of how people come to need each other, even when they don't want to need or be needed. This is a small film about a small person in a small town. But somehow that combination becomes larger than life.