1 January 2018

The Last Station

The Last Station 2009
  • Director: Michael Hoffman
  • Based on the book by Jay Parini
  • Cast: Helen Mirren, Christopher Plummer, James McAvoy, Paul Giamatti, John Sessions, Kerry Condon, Anne-Marie Duff
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Helen Mirren – Woman in Gold, Shakespeare Live, The Hundred-Foot Journey, Brighton Rock, The Tempest, The Queen, Calendar Girls, The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone, Gosford Park, Last Orders, Some Mother’s Son, Prime Suspect, The Madness of King George, The Prince of Jutland, Mosquito Coast, Cymbeline, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Excalibur, As You Like It, O Lucky Man!
    • Christopher Plummer – The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Emotional Arithmetic, The Lake House, A Beautiful Mind, Twelve Monkeys, Dolores Claibourne, Wolf, Malcom X, Star Trek the Undiscovered Country, Inside Daisy Clover, Sound of Music
    • Paul Giamatti – Sideways, Cradle Will Rock, Saving Private Ryan, Homicide Life on the Streets, Donnie Brasco
    • James McAvoy – Filth, Wanted, Atonement, Becoming Jane, Starter for 10, Macbeth Retold, Inside I’m Dancing, Bright Young Things
    • John Sessions – Legend, Doctor Who, Filth, The Merchant of Venice, Gangs of New York, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Henry V
    • Kerry Condon – Ned Kelly
    • Anne-Marie Duff – Before I Go to Sleep, Nowhere Boy, Notes on a Scandal, The Magdalene Sisters
  • Why? James McAvoy
  • Seen: 28 December 2017      

       Once upon a time I read a lot of Tolstoy and even wrote an essay about War and Peace at the university. He was an odd person with some radical ideas – equality, love, social justice, things like that.
       The film. Valentin (McAvoy), a fervent young Tolstoyan, is employed by Tolstoy’s (Plummer) spiritual and political partner Chertkov (Giamatti) to be the great man’s secretary and to spy on his wife the countess (Mirren).
       Valentin is star struck, overwhelmed that Tolstoy treats him as an equal, then uneasy because the countess asks him to spy on Chertkov. Life gets complicated for young Valentin. He’s mocked by Tolstoy for being a virgin, called a prig by Chertkov’s student, the free-spirited Masha who then seduces him. He’s caught in the intrigues, rivalries, bitter conflicts and romantic tangles.
       McAvoy and Mirren are always excellent in their many and varied roles but nobody in this film is likeable or admirable. I haven’t been keen on Tolstoy for a long time (I found Anna Karenina silly) and since finding out that he hated Shakespeare I’ve quite lost interest. This film does not change that. It’s a very odd film, somewhat interesting but never moving, not at all in the same class as Hoffman’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.


2 ½ * of 5 (Hal gave it 3 ½ )

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