In The Station Agent, individuals walking through life alone are brought together in community. Finn is unwillingly at the center of it all. His sudden appearance in Newfoundland, NJ is the catalyst that sets in motion the creation of a much needed community. Ironically, Finn is only seeking to be left alone.
At the start of the film, Finn is engaged in the normal rhythm of life with his friend Henry, working at his toy train store. After the sudden death of his friend, he finds himself thrust in a new situation. The property is sold, the store closed, the inventory liquidated. Henry left him a train depot on half an acre of land in the back reaches of New Jersey.
Finn sets out for the depot and quickly accumulates an odd cast of characters. Joe, the loquacious and lonely extrovert who mans the coffee/hot dog truck only hundreds of feet from Finn’s home, incorporates himself into any activity Finn does. Olivia, the woman mourning the death of her child and the abandonment by her husband, runs Finn off the road. Twice. Cleo, a nearby child, seeks out Finn’s company and his appearance at show and tell at school. Emily, who mans the town’s library, seeks out his ear for her woes of an unexpected pregnancy.
Finn himself is a loner, setting himself apart in order to avoid the ridicule and stares that greet him everywhere he turns—the screams when someone suddenly encounters him, the taunts from redneck locales, the pop of a camera flash by a store owner. His desire to be left alone is easily understandable.
But Joe, Olivia, Emily, and Cleo won’t leave him alone. Each lonely and alone, Finn is the glue that brings them together. Finn ends up fighting to insert himself in Olivia’s life, ultimately helping her with her grief, which brings Joe, Olivia, and Finn back together.
Interactions with Emily force Finn to confront his own fears and experiences…and the town at the locale bar. His final acceptance to Cleo’s invitation helps him face children—some of whom act inappropriately about his dwarfism, some of whom don’t—just like the adults he encounters.
The Station Agent is a film about loneliness but also the triumph of community and acceptance.