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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.

[User Picture]From: kteeski
2004-02-20 02:06 pm (UTC)


What is it about NJ?
"never underestimate the drawing power of the Garden State"

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[User Picture]From: talonvaki
2004-02-20 02:20 pm (UTC)

Re: ahem?

But, you know what I meant...it just seems to be the genesis of a lot of wonderful, quirky films...good ones, but more than its fair share...
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[User Picture]From: kteeski
2004-02-20 02:42 pm (UTC)

Re: ahem?

I know.
That is one of my favourite movie lines though...out of "Dogma". Of course.
I have my own theory on this but I wonder what Kevin Smith would say?
or if he has somewhere?
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[User Picture]From: talonvaki
2004-02-20 03:25 pm (UTC)

Re: ahem?

If he hasn't done already, he probably will in Jersey Girl.

You'd like this movie; there's a shot (of course) of the train station in Hoboken...I was all, "HEY! I was just there!"
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From: lifewithmikey
2004-02-27 05:33 am (UTC)

A definite must-see, with a good lesson thrown in

Without a doubt, The Station Agent is one of the top films of 2003!

I was fortunate enough to see it last fall at a local indie theater in Westlake Village, close enough to L.A. to generate interest yet not too far from where I live (Oxnard).

I can relate to Finn in a number of ways. Though I'm not a dwarf, I've had more than my fair share of issues as I was growing up. As a kid I kept to myself much of the time. I didn't share many of the same interests as my peers - for one, I was never athletically inclined - though I've had a couple of good childhood friends who took the time to get to know me. On the lighter side, I've always been fascinated with trains, just like the main character.

You've brought up an interesting point: Joe and Olivia see Finn as Finn, not as a dwarf. They look beyond the "details" and get to know him. This is a lesson that everyone who sees this film should come away with.

You can read my review if you'd like to know more.
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[User Picture]From: talonvaki
2004-02-27 01:53 pm (UTC)

Re: A definite must-see, with a good lesson thrown in

I knew you'd comment on this...

I think anyone who was/is a "geek" can identify with Finn; I was certainly like him when I was in high school, not with trains but with other things, and I still am in a lot of ways. I tend to get reclusive and I have friends who, almost literally, drag me out the way Joe does Finn...

I wish I had seen it in time for it to be on my 2003 best list, but I did preface that list with the fact that I hadn't seen it yet...
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