Reviewed by Helen Meservey
Dinklage is an actor who's hard to forget. He is dark and handsome
with a rich, velvety voice that is as soothing as it is startling.
In "The Station Agent", Dinklage portrays Fin, a man
so surrendered to solitude that he rarely speaks to people beyond
"good morning," "yes," and "how much
for the coffee?"
Meant to keep others at a distance, Fin's deep, single-syllable
words and unsmiling face have the reverse effect, drawing viewers
intently to his story and his plight. Fin, like the actor who
plays him, is afflicted with dwarfism. He stands four feet,
five inches tall, and he ís used to being stared atóor
overlooked. When his only friend dies and leaves him an abandoned
train station in rural New Jersey, Fin figures heís found
the ideal spot to hide from the world and indulge his interest
Fin of course gets more than trains, finding himself befriended
by a gregarious hot dog vendor, played by Bobby Carnavale and
almost run off the road by a distracted, grieving artist played
by Patricia Clarkson. Drawn awkwardly and amusingly together,
these eccentric loners develop an endearing, touching friendship
that is as compelling as any love story. In a manner that I
found particularly artful, writer/director Tom McCarthy puts
Fin at the center of the tale without making his dwarfism the
story itself. There are, the filmmaker deftly points out, many
ways to feel isolated and alone, and, he suggests, they are
not all necessary.
To his considerable credit, Mr. Dinklage delivers a wry, moving
and often hilarious performance as a man who thinks he wants
to be alone and can't manage to do it. Paradoxically, the trains
he so treasures are the very means by which people come together,
and he discovers he canít exactly have the former without
making room for the latter.
It ís a nice touch, too, that when the film opens, Fin
is working in near solitude building miniature model trains.
As the trains around him expand to life size, so too does his
life, taking on proportions he never knew he had.
Though the film comes perilously close to lapsing into a formulaic
resolution, it never does. Even when, about two thirds of the
way through, The Station Agent takes on a sort of triumphant
oddball buddy flick mood, questions still linger about how itís
all going to turn out. Itís almost unbearable. And in
the film business, that means riveting.
For KUSP, this is Helen Meservey.