8 Contributors reviews and opinions on films, as part of our Duke of Edinburgh Award.
When I first heard abut ‘the Station Agent’, directed by Tom McCarthy, I wasn’t exactly thrilled. The whole unconventional friendship genre, is one I feel a type of film that is often overdone, and just a basic plotline for directors, that end up being movies, that are often generic, laced with artificial sweeteners, fake sentiment, or worse, the main characters sleeping with each other at the end, as an apparently suitable conclusion to a story. I was concerned that I might find the whole film a little twee, definitely not suiting to my tastes. However I was a bit more than pleasantly surprised. The film revolves around Finbar McBride (Peter Dinklage), a dwarf who works in a toy trains store, his only real enthusiasm being for trains. Fin is withdrawn from society, wanting to avoid being scrutinised for his differences. His only real friend is the man who runs the store where he works, who, when he dies suddenly, leaves Fin an abandoned train depot, in the middle of nowhere, New Jersey. There, Fin meets Joe (Bobby Cannnavale), a Cuban American who runs his Dad’s refreshment van, and, despite Fin’s obvious desire to be left alone, is very talkative and relentless in his attempt to make friends. We also meet Olivia (Patricia Clarkson), a hapless artist, trying to cope with the loss of her son and the breakdown of her marriage. All three characters have their struggles, Fin’s difficulty to be seen as just a normal person by society, Joe’s life being blighted by his Dad’s illness and Olivia’s immense loss and grief. However, only when they come together do Fin and Olivia learn that instead of pushing people away, they can have a friendship that brings them joy for the first time in a long time. Extremely rarely do you find a film with three such likeable main characters, which is what makes this a remarkable film. Fin’s stoicism is peculiarly endearing, though even better when he lets his hard exterior crack, and he gives in to Joe’s puppy like insistence on bonding, and the pair go for walks along the tracks together. Patricia Clarkson, as Olivia plays such a real and troubled portrayal of a woman devastated by loss its heartbreaking. For me, though, my favourite character had to be Joe, his attempts to befriend the other, making his own loneliness more apparent, which really tugged at my heartstrings, as well as his willingness to treat Fin like any normal person, regardless., makes Joe especially loveable. I think that this was a film about loneliness, and outsiders coming together. Only when Fin meets the others, does he discover that to be forever alone isn’t what he really wants. This was demonstrated in particular part of the film, where Fin waits outside Olivia’s house, just to see her when she won’t return his calls, unimaginable at the beginning of the film, and completely touching. This film really spoke to me, as I think it would to anyone who ever feels like an outsider, or sometimes chooses to be lonely over the strains of social interaction. ‘The Station Agent’ was such a simple film, yet was absolutely wonderful. Although it didn’t get itself caught in all the hidden meanings, it still spoke really loudly.