November 20, 2003

The Station Agent

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A dwarf moves to Newfoundland, New Jersey. This generic description makes The Station Agent sound like the latest Farrelly Brothers’ flop. Instead, it’s the debut film from Tom McCarthy. Simply put, The Station Agent is unique and very successful at displaying everyday life with an unordinary character. Peter Dinklage plays Fin, an adult dwarf with nothing too eccentric about him besides his height. He has a job, likes to go for walks, and he inherits his friend’s land. There he becomes reluctantly intertwined in the lives of a handful of Newfoundland residents.

Last week, Will Ferrell succeeded as a giant elf in the spotlight. In this film, Dinklage, who was coincidentally in Elf, goes even further as a miniscule main character. Dinklage’s Fin possesses a certain restraint and distance that make him even more interesting than his 4 foot 5 stature. He likes to be alone, and this is understood after we see him in everyday scenarios. People constantly stare and giggle at Fin, a convenient store worker takes a picture of him, etc. He is constantly the involuntary center of attention. He comments: “It’s funny how people see me and treat me, since I’m really just a simple, boring person.”

The storyline is specific and underdeveloped, which doesn’t really hurt the finished product. Still, I could see its 88 minutes working as two hours. (Too bad Matrix Revolutions can’t donate half an hour of its longevity to this flick). What stood out as fantastic was how characters throughout the town connected. Patricia Clarkson, great as a lesbian cokehead in High Art, enters Fin’s world by nearly hitting him with her car