CFS on right track

Meghan Roskopf

In the bygone days of the railroad, the station agent was the train conductors’ point-to-point contact. He would provide conductors with everything from food to gossip before they would take off for the next stop. In the film “The Station Agent,” the agent is no longer a boisterous welcome mat; instead he is a lonely man trying to make it through each day.

Every outing feels like a circus expedition for Fin McBride, a reclusive, train-obsessed dwarf living in Hoboken. When his only friend and coworker dies, Fin suddenly inherits an abandoned railroad station in Middle of Nowhere, N. J.

Thinking this is a perfect opportunity to escape from people’s taunts about his size into a life of solitude, Fin, played by Peter Dinklage, packs up and moves into the train depot. His new life includes taking long walks, fantasizing about classic trains, and spending his days clocking the speed of trains on his pocket watch. However, Fin’s routine is quickly disrupted by two locals. Reluctantly, Fin becomes friends with Joe (Bobby Carnnavale), the gregarious operator of a refreshment stand, and Olivia (Patricia Clarkson), a lonely artist who is struggling with a personal loss. Their friendship begins to develop as all three characters overcome their initial assumptions about one another. With such diverse and painful past experiences, the three become deeply affected by their newfound friendships.

A 2003 Sundance Film Festival winner, “The Station Agent” is a delightful and quirky film about the human condition. Written and directed by Tom McCarthy, the film is a mix of drama and comedy in a beautiful rural setting. McCarthy has a less-is-more motto, efficiently using the camera to express Fin’s bruised spirit, the desolation of the town and the family that is created by three strangers. A sense of nostalgia is also apparent, as McCarthy suggests that riding trains meant more than mileage, but also making connections along the way. Life lessons are learned, and love prevails over pain, but McCarthy is able to accomplish this in a genuine manner.

The fifth offering in Villanova’s current Cultural Film and Lecture Series, “The Station Agent,” will be shown four times in the Connelly Center Cinema: Saturday, Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. Sunday, October 24 at 3:30 & 7 p.m., and Monday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m.

Admission is $3.50 for students and $5 for all others. The Monday evening showing only will feature Rick Worland as the guest speaker. Dr. Worland will introduce the film and lead a discussion, “Railroad Ties,” afterward. For more info call the Communication Department at x9-4750 on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., or consult the CFS web page: