The Station Agent Written and directed by Tom McCarthy
Miramax, opens October 3
Neither a misfit-buddy flick nor a fish-out-of-water tearjerker, Tom McCarthy's Sundance crowd-pleaser manages to explore the darker facets of friendship without being dark. Attempting to forge a quiet life in a recently inherited old Jersey train station, a reclusive dwarf (Peter Dinklage) finds himself unable to shake the attentions of a mouthy young buck (Bobby Cannavale) temporarily manning his sick dad's food stand. Enter Patricia Clarkson's morning-coffee customer, abandoned by her husband after their child's death. The film allows the trio's prickly paths to intersect in ways that reveal to us more than to each other their personal relationships to private concerns. Instinctive moves toward camaraderie always seem distractedly self-serving. When Clarkson nearly flattens Dinklage with her SUV, gift booze is less a peace offering than an excuse to indulge. Clarkson plays a scorching older babe, and the adorable Cannavale gamely gets fussy in his Manhattan-exile strandedness. But it's Dinklage who ensures that the film skirts mawkishness. The threesome's familiarity tips into amused trust, and while nobody's problems get solved, there's a sense of gratitude for the easy collective silence.