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The Station Agent | Review

Painfully Ordinary

Loneliness is the ticket for this ride.

Soul-searching in mass droves and chasing locomotive trains are the make-up of this simple, yet sensitive memo that cleaned up the top awards at this year’s Sundance. While touching audiences and film critics alike, director Tom McCarthy’s drama banks on the poetry of trains and on silent frustrations that live within us all, but while striving for a less emotional charged, authentic portrayal of pain this tale seems to get a chopped down in size treatment where possible poignant moments are given a graze the surface focus and where abandoned railway station house in a place call Newfoundland are supposed to give the film more character than the characters themselves.

While the character of Fin played by actor Peter Dinklage (Just a Kiss) is the perfect prototype of an individual who wouldn’t share a penny for his thoughts, it is the film’s surrounding two other characters that are either too one-dimensional or who’s end of the relationship doesn’t seem to fit with the protagonist. The character of Joe played by Bobby Cannavale (The Bone Collector) is good for a couple of laughs but in the end he comes off looking like an annoying yapping Chihuahua waiting for a bone to be thrown his way, while the middle-aged woman in a bout of child loss, relationship breakups and depression (Patricia Clarkson – The Safety of Objects ) is too secluded and not explored enough to make the viewer care about her problems. At times this is about a small person’s world inside the cruel stupid humanity, but the film is more concerned about tying these characters together with a common thread, not only does it appear that they are lumped together by convenience but not once are we convinced that these lost souls deserve to co-exist or can even find solace with one another.

The film suffers from a chopped story and matches the tempo of train schedule of a lost city, The Station Agent is painfully slowed down perhaps giving to much weight to each half-moment and not enough emphasis on scenes such as class-room lecture which could have given this picture more of a punch.

Rating 1.5 stars

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist and critic at (founded in 2000). Eric is a regular at Sundance, Cannes and TIFF. He has a BFA in Film Studies at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013 he served as a Narrative Competition Jury Member at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson's This Teacher (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022 he served as a New Flesh Comp for Best First Feature at the 2022 Fantasia Intl. Film Festival. Current top films for 2022 include Tár (Todd Field), All That Breathes (Shaunak Sen), Aftersun (Charlotte Wells).

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