‘The Last Station’
Director: Michael Hoffman
Stars: Christopher Plummer, Helen Mirren, Paul Giamatti
Leo Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer) is ailing, and there’s a battle over what happens to the copyright to his works between his wife, Sofya (Helen Mirren) and his loyal disciple Chertkov (Paul Giamatti), who wants the rights donated to the Russian people. That’s the setting for “The Last Station,” but it’s hardly what the movie’s about.
Told through the eyes of a young Tolstoy devotee (James McAvoy), the story dances through the ups and downs of relationships yet the film’s triumph is its ability to not take a side amid so many arguments either in the relationships or in the fight for control.
Mirren takes Sofya, basically a melodramatic, spoiled rich girl and makes the audience warm to her — and want to throttle her — just as Tolstoy does. In a lesser actress’s hands, Sofya could’ve simply been an attention-starved shrew. Among an impressive ensemble cast, Mirren is an easy standout.