The Last Station
100 years ago, the most famous man in the world is having marital difficulties.
An 82 year old Tolstoy – or Count Lev Nicolaevich Tolstoy as he was officially – is at the centre of a battle of wills as he struggles to reconcile his principles with the demands of the material world. On the one hand is his devoted disciple Chertkov (Paul Giamatti), who wants the copyright of all his books to be given to the public; opposed to Chertkov is Countess Tolstoy (Helen Mirren), a drama queen par excellence, who is determined to prevent what she sees as a betrayal of her family’s birthright. Into this turmoil comes idealistic young Bulgakov (James McAvoy) whose idea of heaven is to be Tolstoy’s private secretary. Be careful what you wish for. Everyone wants him to spy on everyone else, and seeing all points of view, he feels hopelessly compromised as well as devoted the great man. And his vow of celibacy is speedily compromised by Masha, who lives on the nearby Tolstoyan commune. There is a lot to enjoy about this film, and almost nothing to criticise about from the insistent and intrusive music, which crops up every five seconds. Christopher Plummer achieves dignity, pathos and curmudgeon as the novelist, while Mirren steals every scene she’s in. I would love her to win another Oscar, but suspect it will be a load of Bullocks.
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