It is so refreshing to me to watch a movie made for adults that is well-written, doesn't resort to bathroom humour, well-acted, and well-directed. And if you make it a period piece to top it off it is like I have died and gone to heaven.
Director Michael Hoffman's (One Fine Day, Soap Dish) "The Last Station" was one of the stronger films of 2009. That plus it starred the marvelous Helen Mirren and gave us a wonderful performance from Christopher Plummer (both were nominated for Oscars).
Valentin (James McAvoy – Wanted, The Last King of Scotland) is sent by Vladmir Chertkov (Paul Giamatti – Sideways, The Lady in the Water) to write down everything that is said between Tolstoy (Chrisopher Plummer – The Sound of Music, Syriana) and his wife, the Countess Sophia (Helen Mirren – State of Play, The Queen). He is basically to spy on her because they don't trust her. The Countess disagrees with Tolstoy giving away their possessions. Sophia thinks that Chertkov has too much influence over her husband.
Valentin is brought on to be Tolstoy's secretary. Tolstoy and he talk about everything over the course of any given day. The Countess then gives Valentin a diary to write down everything he sees. Needless to say he is a man torn.
A practicing Tolstoyian – meaning he is chaste and poor, Valentin is "disturbed" by a woman (Kerry Condon – Angela's Ashes, Ned Kelly) living in the same compound as he. Despite his best attempts to resist Masha, Valentin and she become lovers – secretly because it is against the rules.
Tolstoy and Sophia fight all the time, but still love one another. Tolstoy writes a will that leaves the rights to his works to the Russian people. Sophia finds out and is less than amused. More fighting ensues. Tolstoy leaves the family home in the middle of the night. He asks Valentin to stay and look after Sophia.
On the journey Tolstoy takes ill and has to stop at a train station. Sophia, in her usual dramatic way, is devastated and is desperate to find him.
This is a film about love. In all its forms and glorious dysfunction. The ups and downs of old love – Tolstoy and Sophia – and new love – Valentin and Masha. It is never perfect or the answer to everything, but it still is marvelous when you have it.
A mature piece in which the characters are beautifully fleshed out and acted. Mirren is the right amount of crazy, McAvoy is perfectly nervous and Plummer is well, old and frail. Note perfect each one of them!
What else can be said? Cinematography – perfect. Acting – nuanced. Costumes – glorious. Sets – bang on.
-The Missed Station
-A Tribute to Christopher Plummer
-Previews for Blu-ray Disc is High Definition!, Mother and Child, Chloe, Get Low, Please Give, and Micmacs