Friday, February 19, 2010
The Last Station
Set in the 1910 Russian countryside, this wonderful film is about the last days of famed author, Leo Tolstoy. At first thought, a film about Tolstoy...how dull but fireworks erupt on screen between Tolstoy and his wife Sofia, played brilliantly by Christopher Plummer and Helen Mirren.
The film plays like a Russian version of "The Lion In Winter" except in this version, it's the lioness that takes center stage. Ms. Mirren is a marvel to watch as the wife of the beloved revolutionary thinker who just wants the best for her family, while her husband's philosophy is to share all with the masses. Married for almost 50 years, this is a very human film about a couple's love versus their ideology. The scenes between Mr. Plummer and Ms. Mirren are filled with a level of acting few can match. Watching these two "giants of the screen" is pure pleasure.
The film co-stars Paul Giamatti as Tolstoy's disciple, Chertkov and James McAvoy as Bulgakov, Tolstoy's secretary. Both are excellent and hold their own with Mr. Plummer and Ms. Mirren. Mr. McAvoy, in particular, has the difficult role of trying to remain loyal to Tolstoy's philosophy while acknowledging Sofia's point of view. He is an everyman caught between two gigantic personalities.
The story comes from a novel supposedly based on the actual diaries of the principles. Some liberties are taken at the end but for the most part, the film is historically accurate. Besides the acting, the cinematography is breathtaking with beautiful shots of the Russian woods and countryside. If you're looking for something different, "The Last Station" is a great alternative to the Hollywood "top 10"