July 21, 2004

The Station Agent (Review)

I like films about curmudgeonly characters, I guess. I’ve got a bit of hermit in me. But, even so, I think we all need other people and are especially drawn to certain people who become our friends. And so a film about the inevitability of friendship also strikes a chord.

The Station Agent is about a dwarf named Finbar (Fin) McBride who inherits an old train depot at the same time he loses his oldest friend and his job. Having no remaining friends, and is fine with the idea of just moving in to the depot, hanging out, walking and reading. He prefers being alone since he is uncomfortable in social surroundings. And shouldn’t a dwarf living in a previously-abandoned depot be able to live the life of a hermit? You’d think so.

The only problem with that is that Joe won’t leave him alone. Lanky, goofy, friendly Joe has a hot dog truck parked right outside the depot. Whereas Fin is a stoic person in a small body, Joe is very childlike in an adult body, and uncomfortable in long silences.

Before long, Olivia runs into Fin (well, doesn’t run into Fin is more accurate) and she, too, is drawn to him. Liv is troubled by recent events in her life, and she’s just plain uncomfortable in her skin.

With friendship come entanglements, obligations and the possibility of being hurt. If there is such a thing as “wrong reasons” for people to be friends, maybe that’s what Fin is trying to avoid. But he’s doing it badly.

I can’t say a heck of a lot happens in this film, so I had to wrack my brain a little bit to think of why I liked it at all. It comes down to Fin’s relationship with Joe. It seems natural that Joe can make friends with anyone, and when he latches onto Fin you’re glad for Fin, and for yourself. Because who wants to watch a film about a hermit?

Posted by James at July 21, 2004 10:14 AM
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