The Station Agent
Been-Seen's Movie Atlas is a unique opportunity – a chance to explore the world through movies. Movies that were filmed on location and show you real places, either as they are now, or as they were when the film was made. If you've been thinking of going to New Jersey, don't rent Garden State. Don't get me wrong… it's a great movie, but watch it for the mood, characters and soundtrack, not the landscape. Rent The Station Agent.
Actor/director Thomas McCarthy (who also directed The Visitor) said he was inspired to make the movie after discovering the film's main location, an abandoned station building, in Newfoundland, New Jersey. It's the countryside in which he grew up, familiar territory – the perfect setting for this intimate story.
The Station Agent is the tale of Finbar McBride (Peter Dinklage), a dwarf who works in a New York model train store. When its owner dies, Fin finds himself inheriting an old train depot in New Jersey. The owner's lawyer asks him if he's been to Newfoundland: 'It's pretty but there's nothing out there. Nothing.' You get the feeling that's exactly what Fin wants. He moves there to escape and read train timetables, but finds himself drawn into the lives of the people around him.
McCarthy shot the film on a shoestring budget, but made up for this lack of funds with a great deal of research. After finding the old depot, he tracked down the owner and attended rail fan meetings. And this attention to detail is evident throughout the movie – it's saturated with train imagery, shots of Finbar walking the tracks, sitting on rail bridges and passing crossings.
The Station Agent is a great example of a low budget film that lets the locations play a big part in its story. It's also a great chance to have a look around a state that's often in the shadow of its neighbor, New York. – Roshan McArthur