"The cast presented in The Last Station is stellar and one of the best cast ensembles of the year."
It’s 1910 on the Tolstoys’ Russian estate, Yasnaya Polyana, and Count Lev (Christopher Plummer) and Countess Sofya (Helen Mirren) are going at it hammer and tongs. Tolstoy, 82, has abandoned novel writing in favour of an ascetic life of pacifism, vegetarianism and non-materialism. Sofya, his wife of 48 years, is in despair as he prepares to sign a will giving away his land and copyrights to the people. Driving a wedge between the pair is Vladimir Chertkov (Paul Giamatti), Tolstoy’s chief disciple and founder of the Tolstoyan movement, who wrestles with the countess for influence over her husband. A double love story based on real events from the life of Tolstoy, this period film combines comedy and emotion in a way that's entertaining.
The cast presented in The Last Station is stellar and one of the best cast ensembles of the year. James McAvoy, proving once again, that you don't just lay down the words of your acting, you let the spirit fight its way through your soul and remain a tangible entity for your audience to engage. McAvoy proves he's one of Hollywood's most outstanding talents. Helen Mirren, riding the see-saw with her viewers, never declares any type of emotion until the bitter end. Mirren shows no apparent ambiance of mood or expression, she glides through the film, igniting every scene along the way. Christopher Plummer as the lovable Tolstoy is amiable, captivating, and entrancing. Plummer, a talent long overdue for Oscar recognition is enticing. Paul Giamatti, in a more villainous role we haven't seen of him before.
'The Last Station' will certainly keep your interest from beginning to end. Pay attention to the closing credits, where the actual motion pictures of Tolstoy walking around on his country estate are shown. The film finds a pleasant balance between history and romance while avoiding precious plot devices and artifice. Some might consider it a bit too contemplative, but I appreciate a director who understands the power of well-constructed dialogue, brilliant performers, and an audience willing to savor the tragic but triumphant nature of love.