The Station Agent is about Fin (Peter Dinklage), a man with an unusually short name and an abnormally small body. He’s reminded of it at nearly every point of his life by almost everybody he meets. The little boys playing at a ground near his workplace enquire about the whereabouts of ‘Snow White’. The lady at the cash counter says something apologetic for not having seen him. A cheeky old woman grins with victory after taking a picture of him. The librarian freaks out on almost walking into him and explains that she thought the place was empty. Even the good news of inheriting a piece rural property left by a friend comes along with distasteful dessert, “You’re one of those memorable people.” And you will laugh as expected. But director Thomas Mccarthy doesn’t let the film capitalize on Fin’s short stature for laughs. He directs his actors with precision and lets them sink into the skins of the characters. You see their sadness. You see something exceptional in it and you hop on the train.
Fin’s guard is brought down slowly until he eventually discards it. But then he gets hurt and lapses again into antisocial behavior. His energy level snowballs down and reaches its lowest point pushing him to end it all by lying on rail tracks. His small frame saves him as the train passes through the tracks, leaving him unhurt. Using that as a blessing, he decides to go and speak about trains at a school.
The Station Agent is a brilliant examination of characters, society and loneliness-a personal favourite of Mccarthy. This is the same guy who brought Richard Jenkins an Oscar nomination for The Visitor and wrote the animated movie Up. Another trait of Mccarthy that reminded me of The Visitor was the presence of non-sexual intimacy. The characterization is great and the actors are fabulous. They don’t stop with providing full justice to the material, they elevate it. The Station Agent is a 90-minute long dramedy that showcases the most cinematic phase of Fin’s life. This is an outstanding debut that’s been conveniently overlooked by The Academy.
Rating – 10/10