The Last Station
|The Last Station|
|Directed by||Michael Hoffman|
|Produced by||Jens Meurer
|Screenplay by||Michael Hoffman|
|Based on||The Last Station by Jay Parini|
|Music by||Sergey Yevtushenko|
|Editing by||Patricia Rommel|
|Distributed by||Sony Pictures Classics|
|Running time||112 minutes|
The Last Station is a 2009 biographical drama film directed by Michael Hoffman. It is an adaptation of the 1990 biographical novel of the same name by Jay Parini about the final months of Leo Tolstoy's life. The film stars Christopher Plummer as Tolstoy and Helen Mirren as his wife Sophia Tolstaya. The film is about the battle between Sophia and his disciple Vladimir Chertkov for his legacy and the copyright of his works. The film premiered at the 2009 Telluride Film Festival.
In 1910, the last year of the life of Leo Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer), his disciples, led by Vladimir Chertkov (Paul Giamatti), manoeuvre against his wife, Sophia (Helen Mirren), for control over Tolstoy's works after his death. The main setting is the Tolstoy country estate of Yasnaya Polyana. Tolstoy and Sophia have a long, loving marriage, but his idealistic and spiritual side (he is opposed, for example, to private property) is at odds with her more aristocratic and conventionally religious views.
Contention focuses on a new will that the "Tolstoians" are attempting to persuade him to sign. It would place all of his copyrights into the public domain, supposedly leaving his family without adequate support. The maneuvering is seen through the eyes of Tolstoy's new secretary, Valentin Bulgakov (James McAvoy), who finds himself mediating between the two sides. He also has a love affair with one of the Tolstoians, Masha (Kerry Condon).
Ultimately, Tolstoy signs the new will and travels to an undisclosed location where he can continue his work undisturbed. After his departure, Sophia unsuccessfully attempts suicide. During the journey, Tolstoy falls ill. The film ends with his death near the Astapovo train station where Sophia is allowed by their daughter to see him just moments before his death. The closing credits state that five years after his death the Russian senate reverted the copyrights in Tolstoy's work to Sophia.
- Christopher Plummer as Leo Tolstoy
- Helen Mirren as Sophia Tolstaya, Leo's wife.
- Paul Giamatti as Vladimir Chertkov, the leader of Tolstoy's devoted disciples.
- James McAvoy as Valentin Fedorovich Bulgakov, a private secretary.
- Kerry Condon as Masha, a fictional member of the Tolstoyans.
- Anne-Marie Duff as Sasha, Leo and Sofia's daughter.
- Patrick Kennedy as Sergeyenko
- John Sessions as Dr. Dušan Makovický, a Slovak, Leo's personal doctor.
Filming took place in the German federal states of Saxony-Anhalt, Brandenburg (Studio Babelsberg) and Thuringia, the city of Leipzig in Saxony and at historical locations in Russia. The location for Jasnaja Poljana, the residence of the Tolstoy family, was the Schloss Stülpe palace near Luckenwalde in Brandenburg. The station of the small German town of Pretzsch stood in for Astapovo, the "last station" of the title. Still a working rural station, the Pretzsch station was closed for two weeks for filming.
Mirren won the Best Actress award at the 2009 Rome International Film Festival for her performance. She was also nominated for Best Actress - Drama at the 67th Golden Globe Awards, as was Plummer for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture. Both actors also received nominations for their performances from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Screen Actors Guild.
Release and reception
Sony Pictures Classics acquired distribution rights and gave the film an awards-qualifying limited release on 23 December 2009, with a wide release on 15 January 2010. It was released in Germany on 28 January 2010.
The film has received generally positive reviews. Review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes reports that 70% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 137 reviews, with an average score of 6.6/10. According to Rotten Tomatoes, "Michael Hoffman's script doesn't quite live up to its famous subject, but this Tolstoy biopic benefits from a spellbinding tour de force performance by Helen Mirren." Critic Philip French praised McAvoy for bringing "the same amiable diffidence he brought to the role of Idi Amin's confidant in The Last King of Scotland". Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times called Hoffman's direction "accomplished", and the film's centerpiece "the spectacular back and forth between Christopher Plummer and Helen Mirren"....For those who enjoy actors who can play it up without ever overplaying their hands, "The Last Station" is the destination of choice." On the negative side, one reviewer characterized the film as a "genteel domestic farce" and faulted the director for "pander[ing] to the worst impulses of the cast".
- The Last Year of Leo Tolstoy, by Valentin Fedorovich Bulgakov, Ann Dunnigan, 1971, Penguin Books, ISBN 0-241-02061-1.
- Ed Meza (2008-03-31). "Mirren, Plummer to star in 'Station'". Variety. Retrieved 2008-06-21.
- "The Last Station". The Guardian. 21 February 2010.
- "Part of Germany Becomes Russian Territory for a Film", M&C Movies
- Rome International Film Festival cbc.ca.
- "The Last Station". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 21, 2010.
- "Movie Review:'The Last Station'". L. A. Times. December 04, 2009.
- Brooks, Xan (February 18, 2010). "The Last Station". The Guardian. Retrieved September 11, 2011.
- "The Last Station Blu Ray Review". The Film Stage. June 17, 2010. Retrieved June 17, 2010.
- Official website
- The Last Station at the Internet Movie Database
- The Last Station at Box Office Mojo
- The Last Station at Rotten Tomatoes
- More on the last days of Leo Tolstoy