The Last Station

"Good"

The Last Station Review


A double love story based on real events from the life of Leo Tolstoy, this period film combines comedy and emotion in a way that's always entertaining, even if it sometimes feels camp and contrived.

Valentin (McAvoy) is a young Tolstoyan in 1910 assigned by the movement's leader Chertkov (Giamatti) to keep an eye on Leo Tolstoy (Plummer) and his sceptical wife Sofya (Mirren). But what Valentin finds is a lively, loving marriage that's strong enough to include opposing views. This isn't good enough for Chertkov, who moves to get Leo to change his will to leave everything to the movement. Which of course enrages Sofya. Meanwhile, Valentin is experiencing his first flush of love with a Tolstoyan commune resident (Condon).

The film often seems like a three-way acting smackdown between Mirren, Plummer and Giamatti. Mirren shreds every scene as the tightly wound Sofya, who erupts with hilariously raw rage at every perceived injustice. Fortunately, Mirren anchors this with vulnerability and real passion. And her scenes with the slightly too-jolly Plummer sparkle with chemistry, while he also manages to give Tolstoy intriguing inner shadings. Less rounded is Giamatti's Chertkov, who literally twirls his moustache as the conniving villain of the piece.

Fortunately, these colourful characters are swirling around the engaging McAvoy as the wide-eyed optimist trying to make sense of the situation while learning much more than he expects about both himself and the world around him. With all of this scene-chewing, Valentin often seems rather bland, and McAvoy plays him with perhaps too much post-modern emoting, but we cling to him simply because he's the calm in the storm. Alas, both Condon and Duff (as the Tolstoys' daughter Sasha) get lost amid all of this heavy thesping.

Hoffman deserves some credit for turning history into romping entertainment, even though he undermines the power of the true-life events in the process. A firmer focus on the Tolstoys, rather than Valentin, would have helped. Because as the story converges on the rural Yasnaya Polyana train station of the title, all of the heightened comedy and melodrama, plus several modern-day touches, tip the movie over into farce just when it should be heartbreaking.



The Last Station

Facts and Figures

Run time: 112 mins

In Theaters: Friday 15th January 2010

Box Office USA: $6.2M

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 71%
Fresh: 98 Rotten: 41

IMDB: 7.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Valentin Bulgakov, as Leo Tolstoy, as Sofya Tolstoya, as Vladimir Chertkov, as Sasha Tolstoy, as Masha, Patrick Kennedy as Sergeyenko, David Masterson as Reporter, Tomas Spencer as Andrey Tolstoy, as Dushan

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

This may not be the cheeriest movie of the season, but it's so skilfully written,...

Live By Night Movie Review

Live By Night Movie Review

Ben Affleck launched his directing career 10 years ago with his film of Dennis Lehane's...

La La Land Movie Review

La La Land Movie Review

After storming awards season with Whiplash two years ago, writer-director Damien Chazelle returns with something...

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Hopes were high that this film might finally crack the curse of movies based on...

Silence Movie Review

Silence Movie Review

Faith is a topic Martin Scorsese can't quite shake, courting controversy with complex films like...

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A difficult movie to market, this isn't actually the BFG-style fantasy adventure it looks like....

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Word has it that a 4-year-old came up with the idea for this unapologetically silly...

Advertisement
Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Dramas exploring the nature of death and the true meaning of life are always in...

Paterson Movie Review

Paterson Movie Review

Unpredictable filmmaker Jim Jarmusch ricochets from his artful vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive into...

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

At 80 years old, British filmmaker Ken Loach won his second Cannes Film Festival with...

Why Him? Movie Review

Why Him? Movie Review

Writer-director John Hamburg continues to recycle the formula that made his first hit Meet the...

Passengers Movie Review

Passengers Movie Review

Anchored by the almost ridiculously engaging Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, this sci-fi movie travels...

Neruda Movie Review

Neruda Movie Review

Clever Chilean director Pablo Larrain (who also directed Natalie Portman's Jackie) takes on the Nobel-winning...

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

Narrated by Daisy Ridley (The Force Awakens), this documentary is one of the most gripping...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.