A History Lesson: “The Last Station”


Okay so I don’t have much to say about “The Last Station” for a number of reasons. Reason:

1) I saw the movie yesterday and I kinda pushed it to the bottom of my mind before I forgot I had to write about it.

2) Not a big fan of period pieces and I just realized the rest of my list contains period films….great

3) I’ll be honest. I never read “War and Peace” and “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy.

Alright I got that out of way, onto the discussion.

In general any period movie makes me feel like I am taking a history lesson and “The Last Station” is no exception. “The Last Station” is about Leo Tolstoy and who hold the rights to his stories. Truth be told Tolstoy, played by Christopher Plummer is on his way  out, but isn’t dead. The two sides fighting for his stories is his wife Sofya played by Helen Mirren and Vladimir Chertkov, the tolstoyan with the creepy mustache played by Paul Giamatti.

Sofya wants the rights to publish his work as a form of inheritance for her and her children while Vladimir wants to publish them for the rest of the world to see and read. The outside eyes watching all of this is Valentine Bulgakov played by James McAvoy.  I was pleasantly surprised to see him in this movie and even more surprised that his wife, Ann-Marie Duff was in this movie. Though she didn’t not play Masha, his lover, but Tolstoy’s daughter, Sasha. I guess that’s movie casting for you.

It was interesting for me to see what Tolstoyan theory is about and how fellow Tolstoyans live. This is not a history lesson so if you are interested about it, check it out on the internet. Also I probably would just confuse myself and you if I tried to summarize it.

So Mirren and Plummer are nominated for their roles in this film, but I kinda wish McAvoy got nominated. McAvoy expressed his emotions so beautifully especially when Tolstoy first meets him. Tolstoy asks him why he is crying and Valentin responds that he could have never imagined his favorite idol asking him how his own writing is going. It kinda felt surreal to me like if I met someone I admired and they asked how my work was over their own.

I do think Mirren was wonderful when she was hysterical and screaming especially in the dinning room scene, but what actress isn’t fantastic when they are allowed to shout and scream all they want? You know what, I take that back… probably a lot are awful, good thing Mirren isn’t one of them. I also loved the simple gestures Mirren had towards Plummer. It still should that after 48 years of marriage, she still cared for him.

“The Last Station” is named the last station because in my mind it is figuratively, it is his last stop before death and it literally is the last station where he dies.  The title of the movie tells us alot of what it is about and I am thankful that I was able to get two theories out of it.

Side note: Giamatti and his mustache twisting reminded me of “Hook” when Dustin Hoffman would constantly twirl his.

Oscar Nominations:

1. Best Male Actor: Christopher Plummer

2. Best Female Actor: Helen Mirren

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