The Countess Sofya Andreevna Tolstoy (Dame Helen Mirren), wife and muse to Leo Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer), uses every trick of seduction on her husband's loyal disciple, whom she believes was the person responsible for Tolstoy signing a new will that leaves his work and property to the Russian people.Written by
You've Got Plummer and Mirren; Now Give Them More to Do
"The Last Station" should have been great, but it settles for being merely good. Despite its impressive cast and juicy subject, something about it just doesn't quite click.
Christopher Plummer and Helen Mirren play Leo Tolstoy and his wife in the days leading up to the writer's death, and the tumultuous relationship they shared, she feeling brushed aside by the author because of his commitment to his work and the Tolstoyan movement that developed around it. James MacAvoy plays a young man who scores the job of being Tostoy's assistant and becomes witness to this domestic drama and an unwitting accomplice to the machinations of Tolstoy's close friend and business adviser (Paul Giamatti) to wrest copyright of Tolstoy's works away from his wife upon the writer's death. If all of this sounds like a delicious set up for great acting and suspenseful intrigue, you'd be right; unfortunately, the movie is so much less than what it could have been.
Plummer and Mirren are wonderful in their roles, and the movie's best scenes are the ones of them together. However, they're not in the movie enough, and their relationship, which is the most interesting thing about the story, takes a back seat to the politics of the Tolstoy movement and MacAvoy's reactions to them. MacAvoy is a terrific actor and I've liked him in everything I've seen him in, including this. But I simply didn't care as much about his character as I did Tolstoy and his wife, and I spent the whole film itching for the screenplay to give Plummer and Mirren, two great British actors, more to do.
Paul Giamatti's character is oily and unlikable; indeed, there's something about Giamatti the actor that I find unlikable in general and actually makes it hard for me to watch him. Kerry Condon, on the other hand, in a smaller role as MacAvoy's love interest, is lovely.
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