Release Date (UK) – 19 February
Certificate (UK) – 15
Country – UK / Russia
Director – Michael Hoffman
Runtime – 112 mins
Starring – Helen Mirren, Christopher Plummer, James McAvoy, Paul Giamatti, Anne-Marie Duff
So I have a confession to make; I tend to judge dramatic films like The Last Station on quite a simple basis, and that is whether or not they manage to make me cry. The Last Station passes the test due to some wonderful performances in a tragic and dramatic tale. Leo Tolstoy is one of histories most famous novelists but The Last Station focuses on dramatising the later years of his career after he moved away from writing novels to manifestos and works to support the Tolstoyan movement and ideals. McAvoy plays Tolstoy’s newest assistant Valentin who gets caught up in a battle between Tolstoy (Plummer) his wife Sofya (Mirren) and Tolstoy’s devoted advisor Vladimir (Giamatti) over the rights to Tolstoy’s Work as Sofya wants them to be left for her children’s inheritance but Vladimir wants them to be free so that Tolstoy’s work can be as widely read as possible.
Its east to sympathise with Sofya’s position as she reminisces about helping Tolstoy to write his novels in their earlier years together but he has since turned his writing attention to political writing of ideals she can’t understand, for example advocating celibacy so he no longer wants her help having basically replaced her with Vladimir. Vladimir and Sofya are constantly scheming against each other and Valentin is trapped in the middle as each of them ask him to spy on the other in what is essentially a battle for Tolstoy’s love. Meanwhile Valentin has a love story of his own as he meets fellow Tolstoyan follower Marsha at the Tolstoyan settlement where he stays and he is extremely confused about where his feelings for her fit in with the Tolstoyan ideals. The plot is extremely gripping and this is a thoroughly enjoyable historical drama, even for those completely unfamiliar with Tolstoy’s works.
Both Christopher Plummer and Helen Mirren are up for Oscars for their parts in this film and the rest of the cast also give wonderful and heartfelt performances and the film excels brilliance at all other levels from costume to music and script. Anne Marie Duff also gets a small role as she is reunited with fellow Shameless star Mcavoy playing Tolstoys daughter Sasha who sides with Vladimir rather than her mother. The only slight criticism that can be made of the film is that it does come a little melodramatic towards the end as the conclusion is dragged out slightly. Apart from this though the Last Station is a wonderful film that doesn’t fail to disappoint with its brilliant cast list.
The Last Station Trailer