The Station Agent



A quiet joy with breathtaking performances.
  • Review Date: June 14, 2004
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2003
  • Running Time: 88 minutes

What parents need to know


Sad deaths (offscreen), some peril.


Extremely strong sexual references, including out of wedlock pregnancies.


Extremely strong language.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters drink and smoke a lot; character gets drunk.

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.

Kids say

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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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why Olivia only could be friends with Joe after meeting Fin and what made each of the characters begin to want to be with each other.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 3, 2003
DVD release date:June 14, 2004
Cast:Michelle Williams, Patricia Clarkson, Peter Dinklage
Director:Tom McCarthy
Run time:88 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language and some drug content

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 17 year old Written byhryhry September 24, 2010


What other families should know
Too much sex
Great messages
Parent of a 13 year old Written bypepitowalker August 5, 2009

Wonderful but would be boring to tweens. It's not about them.

I rented this one because I loved The Visitor, Tom McCarthy's story of the immmigrant who came to stay. This one is equally thoughtful, poignant, memorable because it's just a slice of life story, almost a French film.
What other families should know
Great messages
Adult Written byBestPicture1996 October 8, 2014

Quiet, somber dramedy is an indie gem!

There isn't a bad player in "The Station Agent," and that's because there's only three main characters! Peter Dinklage heads this thoughtful little film about the powers of friendship, grieving and loneliness. Joe, Fin and Olivia all struggle with isolation, and they all have different ways of handling it. I especially enjoyed Bobby Cannavale, who stood out in last year's star studded "Blue Jasmine," as essentially the fun, talkative hot dog vendor who's looking for friends and an escape from his sick dad. Dinklage is the anchor though, and you really sympathize with his character, and truly wonder how different any of us really are from one another. This is a great movie to watch on a quiet Sunday and enjoy!
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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