HELEN MIRREN CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER
PAUL GIAMATTI JAMES MCAVOY
THE LAST STATION
The Last Station made a last minute dive into the Oscar race this year, just when it seemed like a slew of new actresses would vie for that last minute best actress slot former Oscar winner Mirren returns to the race. The Last Station written and directed by Michael Hoffman (One Fine Day) might be about a famous Russian family and movement but this is classic British filmmaking that our American award ceremonies love to celebrate. Both Mirren (The Queen, National Treasure 2) and Plummer (The Insider, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus) have been widely recognized all season for their performances as the Tolstoy’s.
Nearing the end of his life, author and theologian Leo Tolstoy (Plummer) is plagued by his over dramatic and self concerning wife of 48 years Sofya (Mirren). Both have different opinions on how his work should be preserved when his life is over, Leo relies heavily on his greatest follower and promoter Vladimir Chertkov (Giamatti) whom Sofya despises with all her might (even firing bullets at his picture). The newly appointed young Tolstoyan secretary Valentin Bulgakov (McAvoy) will try to inspire some kind of peace with his own newly discovered romanticism.
“You don’t need a husband, you need a Greek chorus” Leo Tolstoy says to his wife during one of her attention seeking episodes, which is a great example to how both of them perform here, as if on stage. While The Last Station is being filed under drama, the more memorable scenes are comedic. Mirren has just the right blend of fanaticism and sincerity to make her version of Sofya a plausible and entertaining character in what would have been a dull and boring film. Mirren and Plummer together are a perfect bickering pair and thoroughly enjoyable to watch. However when they are not on screen the film suffers.
Helen Mirren actually stepped into this role after Meryl Streep stepped out (now she finds herself nominated against Streep). While McAvoy continues to be one of Europe ’s most promising actors, this role failed to elevate him to the grandeur we saw from him in Atonement. The Last Station never pretends to be about educating those of us unfamiliar with Tolstoy as a historical figure, and for that I felt a bit cheated.
Final Thought – Colorful performances save the film from drab.
By: Dustin Chase W.
Editor: Jennifer Gih