Watch The Last Station
- 1 hr 52 min
The Last Station is a 2009 historical drama film, directed by Michael Hoffman and based on the eponymous novel by Jay Parini. The movie tells the story of the final year of the life of the renowned writer Leo Tolstoy, played by Christopher Plummer, and the struggles between his wife, Countess Sofya Andreevna (Helen Mirren), and his devoted disciple, Vladimir Chertkov (Paul Giamatti), over the inheritance of his artistic and political legacy.
The film is set in 1910, in a rural estate in Russia, where Tolstoy, aged 82, is living with his extended family and a circle of devoted followers known as the Tolstoyans. The countess, who has been married to Tolstoy for 48 years, is fiercely protective of his works and his intellectual property, as well as of their fifteen children, whom she fears will be disinherited by Chertkov and the Tolstoyan movement.
Meanwhile, Chertkov sees himself as the rightful heir to Tolstoy's radical ideas of pacifism, vegetarianism, and anarchism, and hopes to reconcile the great writer with his estranged family, and to persuade him to disavow his wealth and copyright claims, and to leave his legacy to the people.
The film is structured around the dual perspectives of the countess and Chertkov, as they recruit and manipulate the younger Tolstoys, including the idealistic Valentin Bulgakov (James McAvoy), a newly appointed secretary to Tolstoy, who is torn between his loyalty to the countess and her patriarchal worldview, and his admiration for Chertkov's progressive ideals and revolutionary zeal.
As the drama unfolds, tensions rise between the countess and Tolstoy's other followers, who include the scheming Vladimir Gorky (John Sessions), the accommodating Sergeyenko (Patrick Kennedy), and the passionate Masha (Kerry Condon), who leads a rebellion against the countess' dominance and accuses her of hypocrisy and selfishness.
Amidst this turmoil, Tolstoy himself is torn between his love for his wife and his desire for a more spiritual and altruistic life, and is painfully aware of his own mortality and the legacy he will leave behind. Plummer gives a magnificent performance as the complex and conflicted writer, capturing both his wit and his vulnerability, his ambition and his spiritual yearning.
Mirren, too, is superb as the countess, conveying both her imperiousness and her vulnerability, her love for her husband and her fear of losing him, and her struggle to balance her loyalty to her family with her commitment to Tolstoy's ideals. McAvoy, in turn, brings depth and nuance to the role of Bulgakov, subtly conveying the conflicting emotions and loyalties of his character, and grounding the film's more abstract debates in human drama and emotion.
Overall, The Last Station is a rich and engrossing film, which captures the complexities and contradictions of Tolstoy's life and legacy, and the enduring power of his ideas and imagination. With its superb ensemble cast, its graceful direction, and its sharply observed period detail, the film is a compelling portrait not just of one of the greatest writers of all time, but of the human struggle for creativity, love, and meaning in a world of change and conflict.
The Last Station is a 2009 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 52 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.9 and a MetaScore of 76.