The Last Station

( 9 )

Overview

The final year of Russian socialist writer Leo Tolstoy's life comes to the screen with Christopher Plummer in the lead role and Helen Mirren portraying his wife, Sofya. Paul Giamatti, James McAvoy, and Anne-Marie Duff co-star in the Warner Bros. production, directed by Michael Hoffman from the novel by Jay Parini.
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Overview

The final year of Russian socialist writer Leo Tolstoy's life comes to the screen with Christopher Plummer in the lead role and Helen Mirren portraying his wife, Sofya. Paul Giamatti, James McAvoy, and Anne-Marie Duff co-star in the Warner Bros. production, directed by Michael Hoffman from the novel by Jay Parini.
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Special Features

Deleted Scenes; Outtakes; Commentaries With Christopher Plummer, Helen Mirren and Director Michael Hoffman
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert
F. Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote that a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. Michael Hoffman's The Last Station shows how another great writer, Leo Tolstoy, lived that quote. In 1910, the elderly Tolstoy Christopher Plummer resides on a vast country estate with his wife of 45 years, Countess Sofya Helen Mirren. The War and Peace scribe has become such a celebrated figure that his recent championing of celibacy and his opposition to private property have laid the foundation for something resembling a new religion, and a handful of true believers now live with the couple in order to be closer to their revered leader. His close confidant Chertkov Paul Giamatti wants the movement to grow, and persistently encourages the author to bequeath the copyrights of his novels to the fledgling organization. However, these manipulations put the sycophant at odds with the volatile, passionate Sofya, who believes that the family should inherit those copyrights. Into this tense situation arrives Valentin James McAvoy, a true believer in the movement who has been hired by Chertkov to be Tolstoy's new personal secretary -- as well as to be a spy for Chertkov, who, for legal reasons, is unable to travel to the Tolstoy estate. Not long after arriving, Valentin learns that his hero is a mass of contradictions who often disregards the rules of the movement named for him. Soon, Valentin finds himself struggling against the dictates of celibacy when he falls for the free-thinking, straightforward Masha Kerry Condon, who has no problem picking and choosing what elements of the belief system best suit her needs. As Valentin learns more about Tolstoy's marriage, and discovers the pleasures of the flesh, his loyalties shift -- especially as the fight over the writer's legacy intensifies. For a film that deals so intensely with a clash of ideas, The Last Station is a remarkably physical movie. From the passionate encounters between Valentin and Masha, to the slowly decaying body of Tolstoy, to Sofya's forceful temper tantrums, Hoffman and his actors never lose sight of the fact that people's efforts to live a spiritual life must coexist with the demands and limits of the flesh. Christopher Plummer's spectacular performance best embodies this complicated relationship between the mind and the body. You never question his attraction and affection for his wife, or his intense belief in his lofty ideals. You get the sense that as a younger man he had the ability to live with these inner conflicts, but that old age has sapped his strength -- though not the power of his convictions. James McAvoy also adroitly embodies these contradictions; he makes Valentin's lust for Masha as well as his quest for a higher morality both charming and heartbreaking -- the movie really is about his character's coming of age, and McAvoy successfully carries the emotional weight of the story. There is a genuine warmth in The Last Station -- from Sebastian Edschmid's autumnal, golden cinematography to the emotional openness of the performers -- that elevates the movie from a garden-variety costume drama/historical biopic into a heartfelt examination of love's power to define our thoughts and actions, regardless of our age.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/22/2010
  • UPC: 043396351486
  • Original Release: 2009
  • Rating:

  • Source: Sony Pictures
  • Time: 1:53:00
  • Format: Blu-ray

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Christopher Plummer Leo Tolstoy
Helen Mirren Sofya Tolstoy
James McAvoy Valentin Bulgakov
Paul Giamatti Vladimir Chertkov
Anne-Marie Duff Sasha Tolstoy
Kerry Condon Masha
John Sessions Dushan
Patrick Kennedy Sergeyenko
Technical Credits
Michael Hoffman Director, Screenwriter
Bonnie Arnold Producer
Patrizia Von Brandenstein Production Designer
Chris Curling Producer
Sebastian Edschmid Cinematographer
Monika Jacobs Costumes/Costume Designer
Jens Meurer Producer
Ewa Karlstrom Co-producer
Andrei Konchalovsky Executive Producer
Robbie Little Executive Producer
Jekatarina Oertel Makeup
Phil Robertson Executive Producer
Philip Robertson Executive Producer
Patricia Rommel Editor
Judy Tossell Executive Producer
Andreas Ulmke-Smeaton Co-producer
Sergei Yevtushenko Score Composer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 9 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(5)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(1)

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 5 of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 18, 2010

    Outstanding, Highly Recommend

    Terrific performances by Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer, a well written script, more or less historically accurate (I think), and an intriguing plot, that pits an aging Tolstoy against his devoted but borderline wife, as she seeks to maintain control of the copyrights to his work while he seeks to donate them to the Russian people. Engaging story, well put together.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Great Performances

    Both lead actors and supporting cast were GREAT.
    Helen M. was truly perfect as Tolstoy's wife, the countess.
    Christopher P. played an emotional aging Tolstoy with compassion for the historic character's role in Russian history.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    Tolstoy"s last year

    A 2009 movie based on Tolstoy's final year, The Last Station is based on a novel by Jay Parini published in 1993.

    Unfortunately this movie won't be an epic. A Dr Zhivago it is not. An English Patient it definitely isn't. The movie is not sumptuous enough. It is more like a play involving a few characters. If you do not know the history of Tolstoy and his difficult relationship with Sofia his wife you will have difficulty appreciating this movie.So read Tolstoy's biography before seeing this movie.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 – 5 of 9 Customer Reviews