Longtime ScreenShotters will know what type of movies we’re drawn to, and the elements that make us sit up and say: “Yeah, this is going to be worth an hour or so of my time…”
Sharp writing. Well drawn characters. Different than the usual fare available today. In essence, something without Marvel or a number in the title.
We’re taking a look at a long-time favorite, The Station Agent – which has all of the special ingredients we mentioned plus train stuff. And, yes, we’re nerdy enough to like train stuff.
Lead character Finbar McBride (played by Peter Dinklage of Game of Thrones Sword and Splatter fame) likes trains, too. In fact, as a man committed to his dwarfism while so much of the “normal” world is not, Fin loses himself in trains and their nomenclature, working at a toy train store called “The Golden Spike” and using his encyclopedic knowledge of toy train issue dates and model types to make himself invaluable to his boss and only friend.
He loses that friend and inherits a train depot – a real one – in a remote region of New Jersey. Alone and with no other life goals awaiting him, he packs up and moves there, stonily oblivious to the stares and snapshots of the surprised townsfolk and seeking the anonymity he thought he could find in a small town.
Instead, he is almost run over – twice – by a semi-ditzy artist and still wounded divorcee named Olivia (Patricia Clarkson) and pursued relentlessly by a loud but loving frat bro named Joe (Bobby Cannavale) who has targeted him for friendship.
Writer/Director Tom McCarthy’s script and cinematography move things along very nicely, bringing the trio together to share nuances and insight, witticisms and realizations – Fin finally cracking under the pressure of small town scrutiny to mount a barstool and proclaim himself.
It’s a fun ride, with quirky conversations and outcomes ensuing as the troupe makes its way, winning and losing, keeping to their own personal timetables and right-of-way. If you know anything about trains to begin with, you’ll feel right at home. And if you don’t, you’ll learn some things – which is just the way Fin would like it.
Why We Liked It: An engrossing story line with sympathetic characters and a spartan but suitable guitar soundtrack that moves the movie along. Little things, like Fin’s pocket watch, his choice of park benches, the hold he keeps on his heart – all add to his deep inner knowledge and sense of self: the weakest of the group actually the strongest of them all.
Quotable Quote: “Here we are, here we go, we’re going into a tunnel… it’s one of the darker tunnels in Canada…”