Sunday, March 13, 2005

The Station Agent [Film]

The Station Agent [2003] is a quirky, neat package of a film. A guy working in a toy train store finds the owner dead. He loses his job, but inherits an abandoned train depot in New Jersey along the Susquehanna rail line. Having a place like this is a rail fan’s dream, and he moves in. Suffering from dwarfism, he is constantly ridiculed through the picture, and the depot offers him a place to get away to and be alone. He finds that people pull him into their lives, so his being alone is never realized. A mobile food vendor has his van parked by the station, about which one wonders about his locational-choice skills. A woman mentally harassed by the death of her child almost runs him down on the road with her SUV a few times before she enters his life on a regular basis.

The location for the film is Newfoundland, New Jersey according to Raymond Weschler []. The film did not clearly establish this spot to me. That would place one in the very middle of the most northern part of New Jersey near the New York border. The river in the film would be the Prossaic; and while the railroad line is the New York, Susquehanna, and Western.

The geography is one of rural emptiness. We see some woods, some obvious industrial decay, and rural roads and people. The inhabitants are not sophisticated urbanites, but rural “hicks.” They seem a bit backwards. The landscape is unexpectedly rural. For many this is not what they think of as New Jersey. It is not a place of super highways, but rural roads of a simple blacktop nature. There nearest store is a mile and half away, and looks like what one would expect on a small, remote Minnesota lake way up beyond Bemidji.

In all an interesting film showing that being alone is hard in today’s crammed world. The location information is vague; but clear in its unexpected charms.

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