Film: The Station Agent

The Station Agent is a 2003 comedy-drama starring Peter Dinklage, Patricia Clarkson, and Bobby Cannavale. Dinklage plays Finbar McBride, a quiet man who moves into an abandoned train depot which he inherits when his friend and coworker dies. The withdrawn Fin soon finds himself reluctantly enmeshed in the lives of his new neighbors.

The film won scriptwriter Thomas McCarthy the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay.


Contains the following tropes:

  • Abandoned Area: An abandoned train station.
  • Captain Obvious: Carl's narration of his homemade train movie. Did you know that smoke goes back when the train goes forward?
  • Catchphrase: Olivia's "Shit!"
  • Deuteragonist: Olivia. While the story plays from Fin's perspective, it's her personal issues that drive much of the plot.
  • Discriminate and Switch: Fin has dwarfism, and is also passionate about trains, which leads to this exchange.
    Joe: Do they have clubs for you people?
    (Beat. Fin and Olivia exchange glances.)
    Fin: What?
    Joe (oblivious): You know, like, a "Train of the Month" club.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: A rare heterosexual version. Joe is really interested in being Fin's friend, despite Fin being absolutely disinterested.
    Joe: So, if you guys do something later, can I come?
    Fin: We're not doing anything later.
    Joe: Yeah but if you do, can I come?
    Fin: ...We're not doing anything.
    Joe: Yeah, but...if you do, can I come?
  • Drives Like Crazy: Olivia manages to almost kill Fin twice in one day.
  • Jerkass: Chris.
  • Likes Older Women: Joe say that Olivia has a "sexy smart older woman thing going."
  • Little People Are Surreal: Subverted. Fin is really just a normal, fairly boring person who gets frustrated when people treat him as if he's unusual because of his dwarfism.
  • Lonely Together: The central theme of the film, as each of the characters is desperately lonely but in completely different ways.
  • Loony Friends Improve Your Personality: Oh, yes.
  • Man Child: Joe. Some guy playing with kids asks to buy soda:
    "We're closed. I'll play soccer with you though!" (runs off)
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Joe provides an incredibly hammy commentary while he's out train-chasing with Fin.
  • No Antagonist: The protagonists' personal turmoils provide all the conflict.
  • Rail Enthusiast: Fin
  • Sexy Spectacles: Invoked when Fin has a quasi-romance with a librarian and his friends suggest he should buy her some glasses.
  • Supreme Chef: Joe, who apparently knows what a garlic press is.
  • The Stoic: Fin.
  • Unexpected Inheritance: Harry apparently owned a abandoned train depot in Newfoundland, and bequeathed it to Fin.