Thursday, March 4, 2010

"The Last Station" - in theaters

First off, I'd just like to state the obvious: Helen Mirren is a total bad ass.

Now that that's over with, let's get down to the business of talking about "The Last Station". As some may know, it features Oscar nominated performances by both Helen Mirren (best actress) and Christopher Plummer (best supporting actor). Both of these nominations are well-deserved, as the parts were played beautifully.

The movie is about the last year of Leo Tolstoy's (who wrote "War and Peace" and "Anna Karenina") life, seen mostly through the eyes of his new secretary, Valentin (played by the always adorable James McAvoy). Helen Mirren plays Tolstoy's wife of 48 years, who disagrees with pretty much everything Tolstoy has come to stand for. This includes the Tolstoyan movement, headed by a well-cast, absolutely revolting Paul Giamatti. It seems his character (Cherkov) wants nothing more than to make Tolstoy into an idol, one which would lead the Russian people into a new state of enlightenment. He also wants Tolstoy to sign a new will, stating that the rights to all of his books are to be given to the Russian people as a gift, making them public domain. This is where Sofya (Mirren) and Cherkov disagree the most, as Sofya only wants to secure the welfare of her family through retaining the rights (and the profits) to Tolstoy's work.

While the bulk of the movie revolves around this argument, there are also a number of small, poignant moments that are littered throughout that tell an even greater story about how love changes our lives. And in the end, that's what Tolstoy wants everyone to know: it's all about love.

The only issue that I had with this film were the accents. Most of the actors didn't even attempt to use a Russian accent. Mirren could have been playing the Queen of England (again) with the lilt she was using. McAvoy and Giamatti tried, but didn't really succeed. I just thought that it was funny that this film was about one of, if not the, greatest Russian author of his time, and no one thought about using his native tongue (or at least the twang that went with it). But as far as issues go, I'll let the language slide, since the rest of the movie was so well done.

At times humorous and heartfelt, sad and infuriating, "The Last Station" was nothing that I expected, and I loved it. So on the CWeave scale, I rate this movie a 9. Close to brilliance, but I gotta knock off a point for the accent thing...

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