The Station Agent

January 24, 2015


There is a constant paradox of being an individual and being an individual that needs society to function. Because by definition of individuality, there is no compromise in one’s uniqueness compared to anyone else. And yet, as an individual, in order to live a better uniqueness requires compromising toward other individuals. It can be beneficial to live in isolation from anyone else in order to control the level and amount of compromise and sheer havoc others can bring into one’s life. But at the end of the day, man is a social animal for the specific reason that a society makes him a better being. The pros of being social outweigh the negative checkmarks.


Finn is a particular case of an individual seeking to avoid the collateral damage of a society that sees no redeeming value in him except to laugh at him. The years of these treadmarks are well-worn on his face, and the film makes a terrific effort at allowing us to feel the burden on his shoulders as someone not born with a curse but is treated as one because the average-minded lacks the perceptibility to feel their self-absorbed mockery imprinted on another human being. The cinematic canvas does excellently well the job of illuminating the isolation of a dwarf from society’s ill-being with his enchantment of trains. And what makes this such a potent character-study is that most of the speaking is done with the camera lens and not the script. There is so much depth to the character we leave the film appropriately wondering how he got to where he is and what is the direction he is going to lead.


That is much like the rest of our lives. It isn’t so much a task at asking what purpose there is, which may feel disappointingly missing and lifeless. In fact this lack of purpose is central to the film and its characters. It almost comes across as a chick-flick with how rudderless the motion of history is, of how anti-kinetic the drama exists. Typically I am resentful of such works which don’t say anything. And it’s hard to explain why this film works. Everything is quotidian in the plot. The capture of what vivaciousness there is does not extend beyond the mediocre problems of the mediocre. Is great drama supposed to though? Are we supposed to crave larger clockworks than what the common man composes? Does not the simple and boring person as Finn describes himself not have a story worth telling? Or most commonly is it the case that their stories shed nothing novel on the human condition which makes their examinations blasé? What salvages then The Station Agent from becoming a narcotic is its unique portrait of what it means to be human. Placing any other human as the central protagonist in this story would have been an utter failure to cultivate anything meaningful. We’re given a truth already introduced: that it’s hard being human because of other humans.


Grade: B+



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