By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
Director Thomas McCarthy has been receiving attention the last few years for his subtle, human interest-driven films The Visitor and Win Win, but they were all possible because of his first, quirkiest, and perhaps best film, The Station Agent.
The movie follows a train enthusiast (Peter Dinklage), who also happens to be a little person, as he moves into an old train station in rural New Jersey that he inherited from his co-worker at a model train shop. He’s not the most social guy, but nonetheless finds himself falling in with an eclectic group of loners which begins to coalesce into an unconventional family.
Train enthusiasts: truly the rock stars of the hobby world
The composition of the family plays out like an indy cliché. You have a little person, a fast-talking New Yorker (Bobby Canavale), a hippy artist struggling with the loss of a child (Patricia Clarkson), and a little black girl delighted and intrigued by everything around her. So, it speaks to the writer and director’s talent that everything feels natural and to the performances that each character is believable.
Particularly impressive is Dinklage in the lead, who gets to chew scenery surrounding universal themes such as living your passion, risking yourself by opening up to others while helping them with their own issues and dreams, and figuring out how to turn down Michelle Williams when she’s coming onto you. He, and the film, also delve into the prejudice and travails that little people experience, proving that Dinklage is a criminally underused actor that has a range from comic straight man all the way to steely bad ass.
Which you would have to be in this situation
For some reason, the movie features dual romantic subplots involving Dinklage, one with Clarkson and one with Williams. Surely only one of these (Clarkson) is necessary, especially as they cover a lot of the same ground without giving us much insight into William’s character.
I know he’s a pimp, but damn!
This movie is funny, offbeat, and kind-spirited to the point that it’s damn hard not to get drawn in by it.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time someone freaks out/acts weird around Peter Dinklage
Take a Drink: each time you see something train related
Drink a Shot: whenever a character gets drunk.