The Station Agent

Before Game of Thrones and Nip/Tuck, Peter Dinklage garnered attention for his sensitive, nuanced performance as Finbar, a man who responds to losing his only friend by deciding to live as a hermit. 

Finbar has achondroplastic dwarfism, and is frustrated by the behaviour of other people towards him so is quiet and withdrawn. His friend leaves him a house in his will – a rural building on an abandoned railway – and Fin moves there to be away from people, with no phone and no intention of befriending the locals. This is lost on exuberant chatterbox Joe (Bobby Cannavale), who decides to befriend him anyway. Despite his best efforts, Fin fails to avoid grieving klutz Olivia (Patricia Clarkson), young train enthusiast Cleo (Raven Goodwin) and quiet librarian Emily (Michelle Williams).

The general premise of the unsociable loner being thawed by the warmth of the locals is predictable enough, but this thought-provoking little film doesn’t necessarily do what you expect. The neat, Hollywood plot tropes are mostly missing, and in their place are scenes that feel much more “real”.

The film was made for just $500,000, which seems absolutely inconceivable in light of the calibre of the cast. Even though they weren’t famous at that point, they are just such fine actors it’s startling to imagine them being in a shoestring film. Regardless, The Station Agent premiered at Sundance and took nearly $9 million at the box office. So many films try the nothing-much-happens approach and fall flat where The Station Agent succeeds. It’s gentle and still without ever being boring, and deserves the acclaim it has inevitably received.

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