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The Station Agent
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie has extremely strong language and sexual references, including out of wedlock pregnancies. Characters drink and smoke a lot and one becomes drunk. There are some sad deaths (offscreen) and some mild peril (no one hurt). The thoughtlessness and prejudice Fin experiences are sensitively portrayed and there is a lovely friendship that transcends age and race.
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What's the story?
THE STATION AGENT centers on Fin (Peter Dinklage), who inherits an abandoned train station in Newfoundland, New Jersey and goes there to live. Just outside the station is the world's least busy snack stand, run by Joe (Bobby Cannavale), who learns that Fin wants to be left alone. Joe has tried to make friends with Olivia (Patricia Clarkson) a reclusive artist, but made no progress. Then Olivia almost runs Fin off the road and makes amends by bringing him gifts. Joe and Olivia find themselves "walking the right of way" with Fin, and when Fin and Joe use the camera from Olivia to film a train, they take it to Olivia's house to have dinner and show it to her. Little by little, two people who thought they did not want to be with anyone and one who is desperate for almost any kind of interaction begin to be important to each other in a way that will matter to them more than they could have imagined. Fin also befriends a little girl named Cleo (Raven Goodwin) and by Emily (Michelle Williams), the local librarian. When they need his help, he learns that he can do more than he thought, and that matters to him, too.
Is it any good?
This movie is a quiet joy, with sensitive performances of breathtaking delicacy. Dinklage gives Fin a dignity and self-possession that makes his journey infinitely touching. Cannavale gives Joe a subtle yearning quality beneath the bluster. In one scene, some guys who would seem like natural companions for Joe come by to joke around and they invite him to play ball with him. Cannavale's reaction shows us that he understands Joe far better than Joe understands himself.
Goodwin is marvelously natural as Cleo sees Finn for the first time and asks him what grade he is in. Clarkson, who won an acting award at Sundance, has the showiest and most under-written role, but she gives Olivia grace and heart. These characters will stay with you for a long time.
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