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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Helen Mirren
Christopher Plummer
James McAvoy
Paul Giamatti
Anne-Marie Duff
Kerry Condon.
Directors
Michael Hoffman.
Screenwriters
Running Time
110 minutes

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The Last Station
Scenes from Tolstoy’s marriage — all war and no peace apparently…


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Plot
Valentin (McAvoy) is thrilled to become secretary to the world’s greatest living author, Count Leo Tolstoy (Plummer), only to be caught up in the turbulent complexities of Tolstoy’s life and marriage to Sofya (Mirren). While Valentin discovers life and love, Tolstoy has had about enough of both.


Review
The Last Station
Tolstoy’s War And peace contains the famous line, “Everything that I know, I know only because I love.” Evidently he knew quite a lot himself, especially that love may be many-splendoured but also maddening. On his country estate in 1910, the ailing Tolstoy’s long and tempestuous marriage entered its final crisis, avidly — and contradictorily — chronicled by at least six of the principals and on-lookers.

Tolstoy founded a movement espousing passive resistance, celibacy and abolishing private property. The film observes the bitter power struggle between his wife and disciples, the Tolstoyans (led by Paul Giamatti, conniving with sanctimonious ruthlessness as Vladimir Chertkov), who want the copyright to Tolstoy’s works bequeathed to them for their cause. Countess Sofya, who bore ‘Lev’ 13 children and copied out six drafts of War And Peace by hand, is not going to surrender her inheritance to the betterment of humanity quietly.

In this charged, beautifully nuanced situation, writer-director Michael Hoffman engagingly appoints as our eyes and ears Tolstoyan acolyte Valentin Bulgakov, an innocent prig who sneezes when he’s nervous. James McAvoy is enchanting, the bright-eyed enthusiast overwhelmed by his hero. His joy is bridled when Chertkov and his enemy, Sofya, each give Valentin diaries, with instructions to spy on the other and record everything. Taking flight from the domestic tribulations, Tolstoy gets as far as the remote railway station at Astapovo before rival factions for his favour and his soul catch up with him and the world’s media gather for the show.

Valentin’s progress is a pleasure. But for anyone who loves great acting, it’s the most delicious treat to watch Mirren and Plummer going at each other with all they’ve got, alternating fits of loathing and lust with cruelty, tenderness and supremely amusing repartee. Mirren’s Russian blood must have thrilled to a script that provides her ample opportunity to display imperious bearing, an operatic range of emotions and feminine wiles. Hers is the showpiece, but Plummer is also awesome, just less noisily so.


Verdict
Handsome, engrossing, frequently very funny for a literary bio drama, and ultimately deeply moving, with pitch-perfect performances from one and all.


Reviewed by Angie Errigo

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for The Last Station
Empire Star Rating

Slow But Good.

The Last Station is a very slow but moving and good film to check out especially if you are a fan of Leo Tolstoy's work. Christopher Plummer, Helen Mirren and James Mcavoy bring out excellent pefomances, there are some lovely scenery and also some tender yet funny moments as the movie goes on. But within the final ten minutes or so, it's quite emotional and moving so prepare for the tissues then. At times, it can drag in places. Other than that, this film is highly recommened to check out if you... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 17:03, 06 July 2010 | Report This Post


Slow But Good.

The Last Station is a very slow but moving and good film to check out especially if you are a fan of Leo Tolstoy's work. Christopher Plummer, Helen Mirren and James Mcavoy bring out excellent pefomances, there are some lovely scenery and also some tender yet funny moments as the movie goes on. But within the final ten minutes or so, it's quite emotional and moving so prepare for the tissues then. At times, it can drag in places. Other than that, this film is highly recommened to check out if you... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 17:03, 06 July 2010 | Report This Post


The Last Station

The Last Station may not stick to the facts but its humorous and well done. For further viewing check out Sergei Bondarchuk's version of War and Peace because its fucking epic. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Soprano168 at 20:13, 13 May 2010 | Report This Post


The Last Station

The Last Station is a film cut in three and it’s interesting watching it changing tone. The first third is of a jovial nature, bouncing along to its own rhythm as it introduces the characters and the world they live in. Plummer plays Tolstoy jolly . McAvoy here is all clumsy, innocent, boyish and a delight. The film itself, although still undecided on what it wants to do, seems to enjoy its own existence. Then The Last Station moves into its muddled second third - the good humour begins to... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by moviemaniac2 at 17:32, 27 February 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Eh...?

Touche ... More

Posted by DocSavageManofBronze at 22:26, 19 February 2010 | Report This Post


Eh...?

The Last Station "Handsome, engrossing, frequently very funny for a literary bio drama, and ultimately deeply moving, with pitch-perfect performances from one and all." 4 stars. Avatar "Flawed" 5 stars. This is why i stopped buying the magazine.... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by weblabrador at 11:05, 17 February 2010 | Report This Post


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