A gentle meander through heart-thawing country, debut writer/director McCarthy's Sundance hit flexes an easygoing restraint and genial humanism that churls might dismiss as Miramax bait (Harvey Weinstein sure bought it). You can see where it's going, but it's still a droll, affecting yarn that doesn't pull a whole load of fast ones. Dinklage is Fin, a closed book of a dwarf resigned to a life of trainspotting solitude. Dispatched to backwoods New Jersey by his late business patron's will, he falls in with a handful of fellow washed-up hungry hearts, notably Cannavale's gabby food-stand guardian (a hoot) and Clarkson's distracted artist-in-mourning. Williams somehow glows hopeful as a come-hither librarian lumbered with a deadbeat boyfriend. Reminiscent of Imamura's The Eel in its wry comedy and exploration of an offbeat, end-of-the-road community, the film puts few feet wrong - indeed, Fin's drunken diatribe in the local gin joint is one of the few forced moments. McCarthy affords his central trio plenty of space to stretch into their roles, but it's his laconic way with dialogue that gets the ball rolling. A couple of deliciously pithy wisecracks show the warmth breaking through. It's a pleasure to find a film that doesn't force its hand - or yours.
The Station Agent
Cast and crew