The Last Station

 (454)7.01 h 53 min2010R
Academy Award® winner Helen Mirren (Best Actress, The Queen, 2006) and Christopher Plummer star in this compelling look at the final days of literary icon Leo Tolstoy. Having renounced his title and property, Tolstoy makes plans to donate his royalties to the Russian people, supported by his trusted disciple Chertkov (Paul Giamatti). Tolstoy's outraged wife wages a one-woman war to challenge he..
Michael Hoffman
Helen MirrenChristopher PlummerPaul Giamatti
English [CC]
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Supporting actors
Anne-Marie DuffKerry CondonJames McAvoyJohn SessionsPatrick KennedyTomas SpencerChristian GaulWolfgang HäntschDavid MastersonAnastasia Tolstoy
Chris CurlingJens MeurerBonnie Arnold
Sony Pictures Classics
R (Restricted)
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4.4 out of 5 stars

454 global ratings

  1. 63% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 21% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 12% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 2% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 2% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

ErateReviewed in the United States on March 11, 2019
2.0 out of 5 stars
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The movie was well made in terms of cinematography and quality BUT BUT BUT
The entire movie was about a ridiculous cult that didn't make any sense and the leader of that cult who gets fooled by a radical to give up all the rights to his work to the public and leave nothing to his family "because it belongs to the people".
This issue about the will causes much chaos in his marriage of 48 years in which his wife is constantly distraught trying to fight for the inheritance of her children and in which she fails (although apparently the government eventually gave her back the rights before she died.)
The story was weird, left me feeling like "WTH did I just watch", strange and very ridiculous although the actors were excellent and the theme itself is something generally understood by the public.

Its hard to describe how poorly written was this story and everything it lacked. It lacked substance, rationality, they made irrational things seem understandable and in that confusing the viewer into wondering if one is the ridiculous one.

On the other hand it exposes the ups and downs of two married people who are facing certain challenges in the relationship in which there is such discord and hate yet the presence of love and a life of experience remains in the mix. realistic and very telling in that sense. Something hard to find in a movie.
One person found this helpful
F. ImbodenReviewed in the United States on September 9, 2019
1.0 out of 5 stars
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Such great casting and acting but the content was not worth making a movie about. Tolstoy obviously was trying to do something good with his financial success and popularity, but his character was so flawed and his interpretation of Bible not any better. That essentially left him quite the disaster of a leader. His wife could see the sycophants and opportunists attracted to her husbands fame and fortune, which was helpful to a degree, but she also lacked any real concern for what good her husbands wealth and popularity could have yielded for the downtrodden Russian citizens. To close, read Isaiah chapter 58 for a powerful insight into what God is looking for from everyone, and all the more from those who have the ability and resources and influence to do good for their neighbors.
2 people found this helpful
acjReviewed in the United States on March 5, 2021
4.0 out of 5 stars
Count Leo Tolstoy
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If the viewer is not fond of great literature, this film might be a waist of time. However, anyone acquainted with some of the Russian literary icons of the period prior to the Russian revolution will be most interested and rewarded as I was. Plummer and Mirren are amazing, Mirren as usual is most impressive. To those that say the drama is over the top, they should remember that Russia at that time in history was socially as well as artistically explosive.
Fascinating film!
One person found this helpful
C. CollinsReviewed in the United States on January 15, 2013
5.0 out of 5 stars
The beauty of difficult choices
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What a beautiful, appealing film is the Last Station. Even if it takes placed during th final months of the celebrated author Leo Tolstoy's life, it is really about life and its complexities and choices and options. The scenes of the Russian countryside are beautiful and certainly explain why Tolstoy would opt for the pure country life in his later years. The acting is perfect with Helen Mirren and James McAvoy delivering wonderful performances. The film is about complexity also. Life offers complexity and this film does a superb job of revealing the conflicting nature of our desires and personal philosophy. Leo Tolstoy, played beautifully by Christopher Plummer, is torn between his love and loyalty to his large family and to the Russian peasants and the rest of downtrodden humanity. His wife, Countess Sophya Tolstoy, played by Mirren, wishes for the royalties of his many novels to remain as part of the family estate, providing her, her children, her grandchildren with income for generations to come. Yet Tolstoy's personal philosophy has become a new emerging ideology and the primary disciple and mover of the movement wishes that Tolstoy would make all his works available free of copy right to anyone who wishes to publish and distribute his work. The screenwriters displayed perfect balance between Helen Mirren as the Countess, concerned with the security of herself and family and that of Paul Giamatti who is standardizing and canonizing Tolstoy's philosophy for the good of mankind. Is the Countess greedy? Yes, but so is everyone to some extent. It is a normal human emotion and it is not until the Countess becomes extremely histrionic that Count Leo Tolstoy becomes weary of her manipulation. Giamatti plays a more controlled and careful character, trying to make the works of the great writer as accessible and affordable as possible, yet in the name of loving and helping mankind, he cuts corners and hurts. This is not a simple issue for we have seen the results of ideology gone wrong in the lives and careers of Robespierre, Pol Pot, Jim Jones, Stalin, and others. The zealot who will hurt other humans for a higher good is a theme of great importance for ideologies that are meant to spread love often spread pain, hatred, and intolerance. Tolstoy is torn between them personally and intellectually and the film displays his struggle to reconcile these warring camps. The screen writers inserted the naïve, thoughtful, observer in the character of Tolstoy's new secretary, played by James McAvoy. Tolstoy insists that all world religion is based on the common concept and experience of human love. McAvoy begins to experience that love and it opens him up to the struggle that Count Tolstoy undergoes in the power struggle between his wife and his disciples. Valentin, the secretary, is amazed that Tolstoy wishes to know all about him and to hear his life experiences. He is amazed that a great man wishes to hear the experiences and thoughts of a young man rather than relate his own illustrious career and philosophy. I love this concept in the film for great men are open to experiences of others, to their views, their pain and belief, for it fuels the mind and soul of a great man to hear these things. Tolstoy is the great man who wishes not to impress you with his philosophy but to open you to your own personal philosophy. The virgin Valentin is opened to a world of emotion, experience, and love when he meets a fellow pilgrim, Masha, played by the subtle beauty, Kerry Condon. Valentin is placed in a similar situation to Tolstoy, do we side with those whom we love or do we side with those comrades who join us in philosophy and ideology for the better good? Valentin calls Masha to him whereas Tolstoy must separate himself from hysteria to gain peace of mind in his final days.

The film is a beautiful life affirming experience and is highly recommended. I left the film feeling elated for there are no easy solutions, there are no uncomplicated relationships, there are no decisions that don't have unforeseen consequences; yet the human heart is a guide - a blind, innocent, easily fooled guide, but a guide none the less.
10 people found this helpful
D. SorelReviewed in the United States on August 23, 2010
5.0 out of 5 stars
Beautiful film that will be hard to forget!
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Excellence! That is the only word I could think of when I finished watching this film. I had heard from friends that it was depressing and so I had shied away until it came out on DVD but I really shouldn't have because this movie has everything that a fantastic movie should: great actors, a wonderful story, superb screenwriting, and interesting characters (amongst other things).

Christopher Plummer plays Leo Tolstoy who is at the end of his life and at odds with himself, the ideologies that he created, his family, and followers. Helen Mirren pulls out an exceptional performance as Tolstoy's wife, former muse, confidante, and eventual nemesis. However, this movie is not just about the dissolution of a marriage (though that is certainly an excellent piece). It's also about Tolstoy's legacy and those who will fight tooth and nail to preserve it even if it means casting aside his wife. James McAvoy is called in to be a secretary to Tolstoy. Yet it soon becomes clear that he was actually hired to be a spy for Tolstoy's aid who is trying to change the writer's will so that Tolstoy's wife will receive none of the royalties to her husband's own works. As it becomes clear that Tolstoy is in his last days, those around him scramble to secure their needs before the great artist is laid to rest.

It was only when the credits finally rolled that I realized I hadn't breathed in over two hours. Each scene was magnificent in every possible way from the acting to the cinematography. The script was so tight that I don't think I could find a single loose end to complain about. Mirren's portrayal of Tolstoy's jilted wife was filled with such complexity that I found myself in total awe of her performance. McAvoy's character development was to be believed! His ability to go from a naive writer who worshiped the master Tolstoy to a realistic and forgiving man who acknowledged his heroes faults and successes was brilliantly nuanced. Of course the film would have been quite different had Plummer not made such a remarkable performance. He allowed the contradictions within Tolstoy's character to truly show without making him appear insincere or fickle. Truly an excellent film and one that I hope will last for years to come!
6 people found this helpful
AcadianWriterReviewed in the United States on August 18, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
A perfectly wonderful film. Mirren played all the emotions of love
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A perfectly wonderful film. Mirren played all the emotions of love, anger, fear and loneliness one can feel toward a husband who's held her close and controlled through their life together. She's frantic to know she and their children won't be left penniless when he dies, but he wants to escape from her to die in peace. She reveals her basic distrust of his intentions because he never gave her the answer she needed to hear from him to satisfy her own emotional trauma.
7 people found this helpful
Grady HarpReviewed in the United States on June 24, 2010
5.0 out of 5 stars
The Idealism and Realism of Leo Tolstoy
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So much has been written about the evolvement of the movement toward social equality the grew out of the second half of the 19th century Russia that we often forget the gentler side of the true meaning of 'socialism': unfortunately it is inexorably tied to the now negative noun 'communism' and has colored the world view of the 20th century, losing sight of the original dreams of those who championed the beginnings of it. THE LAST STATION takes us to that time when the kinder aspects of of the movement reigned. Celebrated writer and essayist Leo Tolstoy was deeply admired by the Russian people not only for his immense gifts as a writer, but also for his humanitarian concerns that created a solid movement at the end of his career. Could a Count, man of wealth and royalty, forsake his worldly possessions (including the rights to the royalties of his books) and spread his belongings to the people of Russia? If the answer were requested from his Countess wife Sofya the answer would be an emphatic NO!: this headstrong woman refused to consider letting her rights to her husband's writings (which she helped create) evaporate into the hands of the 'ignorant poor masses' upon her husband's death. This conflict forms the meat of the story related by THE LAST STATION.

Writer/Director Michael Hoffman beautifully adapted the novel by Jay Parini and selected a perfect cast to recreate this important period of time around the final days of Tolstoy's life. Christopher Plummer is able to give us a fully realized portrait of the conflicted Tolstoy. Paul Giamatti seethes oily evil as Tolstoy's principal disciple Chertkov, a man so driven to make Tolstoy's life's work into public domain that he alienates almost everyone he encounters. Helen Mirren reveals all the love and passion and fury and rage as Sofya in a performance so richly detailed it must be seen several times to appreciate all the nuances. James McAvoy is the central figure of the story - the appointed secretary Valentin who is sent to Tolstoy's magnificent home to record all of the events developing in the Tolstoyian movement, a movement that included living in a commune where Valentin encounter's Masha (Kerry Condon) who helps him shed his outer shell of protective innocence to discover the true heart of Tolstoy's movement - Love! Significant cameos are portrayed by Anne-Marie Duff as Tolstoy's daughter Sasha, Patrick Kennedy as Sergeyenko, and John Sessions as the doctor, Dushan. The film is a work of brilliant conversations, moments of history unraveled in a perfect way, and yet it is a film rich in comedy and in passion and in the struggle between a long married couple coming to grips with the change in the social milieu of the day. The title refers to the isolated train station where Tolstoy died and the range of loss of dignity and retention of emotional power is mightier than the whole of changing Russia. The musical score is by Sergei Yevtushenko ('The Russian Ark') and the moody cinematography is by Sebastian Edschmid.

THE LAST STATION is a breath of fresh air for those who long for meaningful movies these days. It calls upon the intellect, it satisfies the yearning to observe first class acting, and it dares to tell a story that will encourage discussion after seeing the film. Would that there were more like this. Grady Harp, June 10
2 people found this helpful
Harold WolfReviewed in the United States on July 27, 2010
5.0 out of 5 stars
This dramatization of Tolstoy is as good as his own writings
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Loved it. It's a romance, historical dramatization of a real writing master. What drama Tolstoy had in his life. No wonder he wrote so well. Watch this, not as entertainment, although the superb acting does that too, but as a period documentary on the end portion of the life of a great man. You'll want for more when it is done. Tolstoy actually dies in the home of the railroad stationmaster, not in the station.

There's plenty of reviews about the outstanding role performances by Helen Mirren (Prime Suspect) and Christopher Plummer , Mr. and Mrs. Tolstoy. Perfection is the most concise word to use. But the story was being told from the point of view of the newly hired private secretary to Tolstoy. This young man, Valentin, was played by James McAvoy (Becoming Jane) and deserves his own round of praise. He is dramatic and funny, at least as much as this tragic romantic story will allow. It is he and another hired girl at the Tolstoy estate, played by Kerry Condon, who do the bed scenes which cause the warnings on the box.

It is truly a sophisticated, historical, documentary/drama, adult film, not one for the children. They would not care for it. But you will! Rated R, which means restricted, but could, in this case also mean REGAL.

Another pair of characters, Tolstoy's daughter played by Anne-Marie Duff, and his political friend, Chertkov (Paul Giamatti) do such a good job of being the characters they play that you develop a distaste for them.

Wonderful film, highly recommended. Beautifully filmed, wondrous period tale based on a novel by Jan Perini. Subtitles for the feature as well as some of the bonus stuff.
3 people found this helpful
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