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The Last Station Movie Review

Updated on November 29, 2014
Christopher Plummer as Leo Tolstoy
Christopher Plummer as Leo Tolstoy
Christopher Plummer
Christopher Plummer
Helen Mirren, Paul Giamatti, Anne-Marie Duff at Tolstoy's Death Bed
Helen Mirren, Paul Giamatti, Anne-Marie Duff at Tolstoy's Death Bed

The Last Station

I saw a wonderful movie tonight. It was so good that I felt compelled to sit down and write about it even though it's past my bedtime. The Last Station has it all--an all-star cast, great director, wonderful screenplay written by the director, Michael Hoffman, based on a novel by Jay Parini about the last year of Leo Tolstoy's life.

Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer, the leads, were superb as Tolstoy and his wife, Sofya. Both are Oscar nominees, and both received nominations by the Screen Actors Guild, the Golden Globe. Mirren was named best actress at the Rome Film festival. Paul Giamatti was perfect as the villain locked in mortal combat with Mirren over Tolstoy's will. Tolstoy's battles with Sonya his wife of 48 years reminded me a bit of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor going at it in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf."

James McAvoy and Kerry Condon provided a hot but tasteful love scene and a bit of humor with McAvoy as the sensitive young writer, secretary to Tolstoy, and Condon as Masha, a sexually liberated, young, beautiful resident at the utopian-Marxist commune founded by Tolstoy on his estate. Anne-Marie Duff was quite convincing as Tolstoy's daughter who conspired with the villainous Giamatti character, Vladimir Chertkov, to get Tolstoy to write a new will signing over his literary rights for "the benefit of all Russian people."

Kerry Condon has a wonderfully expressive and impish face which matched her role perfectly.

The movie sets in Germany and Russia seemed authentic and the filmography was quite good. I wouldn't be surprised to see Mirren and/or Plummer win an Oscar.This is a must-see film.

Christopher Plummer and Helen Mirren, The Last Station
Christopher Plummer and Helen Mirren, The Last Station
Kerry Condon as Masha seducing the innocent young Valentin played by James McAvoy
Kerry Condon as Masha seducing the innocent young Valentin played by James McAvoy
Helen Mirren as Countess Sofiya Tolstoy
Helen Mirren as Countess Sofiya Tolstoy
Kerry Condon
Kerry Condon
Giamatti and McAvoy in The Last Station
Giamatti and McAvoy in The Last Station

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    • Ralph Deeds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ralph Deeds 

      7 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      For Tolstoy and Russia, Still No Happy Ending--Tolstoy Remains Snubbed in Russia, NYTimes 1-4-10

      The impulse had swelled up during a lonely visit to an unmarked mound of earth where Tolstoy is buried. Mr. Stepashin described the visit — made while he was director of the Federal Security Service, successor to the K.G.B. — as an emotional experience that he has never been able to shake off.

      “You look at the house where he lived and worked, where he created his works, and then you come to a place where there is nothing but this small hill,” said Mr. Stepashin, who has close ties to the church. “It was puzzling, on a human and a moral plane. And then I decided to write this letter.”

      Ambivalence toward Tolstoy is new in Russia.

      The Soviets planted him at the top of their literary pantheon, largely because of the radical philosophy he preached amid the early rumblings of the October Revolution. The publication of “War and Peace” and “Anna Karenina” made Tolstoy so famous that one contemporary described him as Russia’s second czar. He used that position to rail against the church, as well as the police, the army, meat eating, private property and all forms of violence.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/04/books/04tolstoy....

    • Ralph Deeds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ralph Deeds 

      8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      It was quite an enjoyable movie. Helen Mirren is always good. And Kelly Condon is great new face.

    • learntosail profile image

      learntosail 

      8 years ago

      Great review. I'll have to check it out. I believe Helen Mirren to be one of the greatest living actresses. She's great in everything she does.

    • profile image

      KELLER 

      8 years ago

      Good review.

      Keep on blogging!

    • Ralph Deeds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ralph Deeds 

      8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Next to Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren is my favorite actress. The others were quite good, too.

    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 

      8 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Hadn't heard of this one. I've enjoyed your review and am convinced by it - I'll search this movie out and watch it.

    • Ralph Deeds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ralph Deeds 

      8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Thanks for the comment. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Parts of it are quite funny. Mirren is a great actress and Plummer as Tolstoy did a wonderful job.

    • vrajavala profile image

      vrajavala 

      8 years ago from Port St. Lucie

      thanks for the rundown on this movie. looks good.

    • Ralph Deeds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ralph Deeds 

      8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Tnx. Please do. I think you'll like it.

    • The Dix View profile image

      The Dix View 

      8 years ago from Los Angeles

      I'll take the recommendation and let you know

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 

      8 years ago from UK

      Will look out for this movie, thanks :-)

    • Ralph Deeds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ralph Deeds 

      8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      I'll look for you comments on the movie.

    • Beata Stasak profile image

      Beata Stasak 

      8 years ago from Western Australia

      Thank you for recomending this movie to me, I studied Tolstoy and all his work at UNI in Russia so it will be interesting to see it from English point of view. Thanks for visiting me my 'hubby friend', I will watch for this movie and write you my opinion about it. Cheers from Beata

    • profile image

      Iðunn 

      8 years ago

      hehe, now I definitely have to chase it down to see why. I have a friend on my old message board who says I remind him of Erin Brokovich. how could I not be pleased? :o

    • Ralph Deeds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ralph Deeds 

      8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Not a barn burner but worth watching. Plummer and Mirren are great as usual, and Kerry Condon reminds me a bit of you in my imagination. :-)

    • profile image

      Iðunn 

      8 years ago

      I'm a huge Tolstoy fan and an indie film nut and I hadn't even heard of it. Thanks for the heads up! Oh, and good afternoon to you :)

    • Ralph Deeds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ralph Deeds 

      8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Moulik,thanks for your comment. Last weekend I saw another historical movie, "Creation," about Charles Darwin's agonizing decision and battle with his highly religious wife over the publication of his life's work. This is an interesting topic, but the movie didn't live up to its promise. I rated it a C or C-.

    • Moulik Mistry profile image

      Moulik Mistry 

      8 years ago from Burdwan, West Bengal, India

      Good review, feel like watching it...

    • Coolmon2009 profile image

      Coolmon2009 

      8 years ago from Texas, USA

      Sounds like a good one to look for; I will be on the lookout for this one; As a side note, thanks for the link to the "One piece at a time" video; I enjoyed watching it.

    • Michael Shane profile image

      Michael Shane 

      8 years ago from Gadsden, Alabama

      Looks & sounds like a very good one to watch, I am going to put in my que...Thanks for the suggestion....

    • Stevennix2001 profile image

      Steven Escareno 

      8 years ago

      Very intersting take on the movie. I can't wait to see the movie later on tonite, since it's the last movie I need to see before I finish my two oscar hubs and the film review for myself. lol. However, thanks for the input on it, and it sounds like a great movie. Now, I know i'm in for a real treat. :)

    • Ralph Deeds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ralph Deeds 

      8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      A.O. Scott--To say that the actors — Helen Mirren, James McAvoy, Christopher Plummer and Paul Giamatti, among others — overdo it would be an understatement. I can’t handicap their Oscar chances, but isn’t there a scenery-eating contest every summer out on Coney Island? [I don't think Scott appreciated the movie's light touch.]

      Thanks, everyone for the comments!

    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 

      8 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Wow, Ralph, this looks great. I love Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer. They out to be great together. I've ordered this from Netflix already. Thanks

    • ethel smith profile image

      Ethel Smith 

      8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      I shall look out for this one thanks

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish MS 

      8 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      We need more good movies like this one! I was eager to read this review and enjoyed it very much. The film has not yet been released here, but I will be looking for it and hope not to have to wait too long. Christophere Plummer is a favorite and remember Helen Mirren especailly in Excalibur, White Nights, and Calendar Girls.

    • sabu singh profile image

      sabu singh 

      8 years ago

      Thanks Ralph. Goes on to my "must see" list too.

    • cajunrooster profile image

      John David LeCoq 

      8 years ago from San Antonio, Texas

      I am a big Christopher Plummer fan. He is one of my all-time favorites. I will have to see this. Thanks for the review.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 

      8 years ago

      Thanks so much fro the recommendation, Ralph. I will put this on my "must see" list.

    • Ralph Deeds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ralph Deeds 

      8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      eovery, ha!

    • profile image

      mewlhouse 

      8 years ago

      I have not seen this, but will put in my queue.

    • eovery profile image

      eovery 

      8 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

      So was that you in the first picture? Grew your beard out a little. What a good looking mature man, right?

      Keep on hubbing

    • Ralph Deeds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ralph Deeds 

      8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Don't miss "The Last Station." Great cast including Helen Mirren at her best.

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