The Last Station Review: All Aboard The Love Train
Okay, so Tolstoy had the intellect to write War and Peace while Andre has peaked with Insania. And no Sofya wasn’t a fame-hungry bag of silicon but their relationship was under close scrutiny from the press and any fall-outs made headlines.
The Last Station chronicles their last row which centres around Tolstoy’s will. The philosopher (Christopher Plummer), pressured by his closest advisor Chertkov (Paul Giamatti), wants to give the copyright to his literary works to the Russian people meaning Sofya (Helen Mirren) won’t get a penny.
The rift puts an understandable strain on the love the pair still clearly share. Tolstoy’s teachings of peace and pacifism are tested as Sofya desperately tries to make him reconsider.
Chertkov sends the young Valentin (James McAvoy) to act as Tolstoy’s secretary while secretly tasked to record everything that Sofya says.
Valentin stays at a Tolstoyan commune, a strict cult which follows the writer’s ideals, where he falls in love with the free-spirited Masha (Kerry Condon).
Two tales of love play out and the naive romance of the young lovers intertwines with the tragic marriage breakdown of Tolstoy and the countess.
Mirren gives a great performance as a woman who feels her life-partner and family are turning against her. Plummer, behind a bushy white beard, is equally brilliant but their moments together is where they really shine.
They capture perfectly the love felt after 43 years of marriage, something not often seen in films.
Their love is still ablaze (as a slightly disturbing love-scene “I’m still your little chicken…and your still my big cock” demonstrates) which leaves audiences a bit confused about Tolstoy’s betrayal but things come together in the end.
Period dramas about Russian philosophers won’t be everyone’s thing but if you want to see the power and problems of love brilliantly acted out on the big screen, it’s well worth watching.