Neil Young’s Film Lounge – The Station Agent



USA 2003 : Tom McCARTHY : 88 mins

When McCarthy’s debut feature won Best Original Screenplay at last month’s BAFTAs beating Oscar winners Lost in Translation, Finding Nemo and The Barbarian Invasions – the general reaction was “Tom who?” and “Station what?”, as the film hadn’t yet been released over here. But the BAFTA was only the latest in a long line of global gongs for the movie, the gentle tale of four-foot-something loner Fin (Peter Dinklage) who moves into a remote rural railway station and is befriended by a bereaved woman (Patricia Clarkson) and a chatty hot-dog vendor (Bobby Cannavale).

From its opening seconds, The Station Agent is emphatically an American indie affair, full of ever-so-plangent guitarwork, a slightly grainy look to its images, and characters and situations which tread the dangerous line between originality and quirkiness. Fortunately, McCarthy and his three lead actors have sufficient grasp on their material (perhaps not surprising, as they spent three years trying to get the thing made) to ensure the results are charming without being cloying, intelligent without being preachy. And Dinklage who stole the show as the irascible childrens-book author in Elf is a real find, more than holding his own opposite the ever-reliable Patricia Queen of the Indies Clarkson.

23rd March, 2004
(seen 19th August, 2003 : Kursaal, San Sebastian San Sebastian Film Festival)

click here for the original note-form review of The Station Agent from the San Sebastian Film Festival

Click here for the other films and features from the San Sebastian 2003 Film Festival

Click here for a transcript of an exclusive interview with McCarthy, Dinklage and Cannavale

by Neil Young