.

Last Station

Helen Mirren, Christopher Plummer, James McAvoy

Directed by Michael Hoffman
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 3
Community: star rating
5 3 0
December 3, 2009

Helen Mirren is a lusty, roaring wonder playing, of all things, the long-suffering wife of Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer in peak form). Countess Sofya, married to the old man for 48 years and the mother of his 13 children, is beside herself over her husband's decision — in the last year of his life — to will the rights to his great literary works not to her but to, of all things, the Russian people.

Sofya faints dead away at the sight of Vladimir Chertkov (Paul Giamatti channeling Uriah Heep), who manages the utopian movement that Tolstoy founded. She spits contempt at Chertkov, calling him her husband's"boyfriend," and rages at the very sight of him.

Get more news, reviews and interviews from Peter Travers on The Travers Take

Mirren has worn the crowns of Elizabeth I and II on screen, but she's never played a drama queen like Sofya. To watch her threaten, cajole and seduce her husband is a treat Oscar voters cannot ignore. The incomparable Mirrenis simply astounding. And Plummer, red-faced with embarrassment at his owndesire for his wife after all these years, is her match. The sight of these two acting giants going at each other should come under the heading of pure, rowdy pleasure.

The film itself, energetically directed and written by Michael Hoffman, can't always rise to the level of its two dynamo stars, though James McAvoygets in some tasty licks as Valentin Bulgakov, Tolstoy's worshipful secretary. By the end, when the estranged Tolstoys say their final goodbye sat a train station, you'll be too much in thrall to care.

prev
Movie Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Road to Nowhere”

    Talking Heads | 1985

    A cappella harmonies give way to an a fuller arrangement blending pop and electro-disco on "Road to Nowhere," but the theme remains constant: We're on an eternal journey to an undefined destination. The song vaulted back into the news a quarter century after it was a hit when Gov. Charlie Crist used it in his unsuccessful 2010 campaign for the U.S. Senate in Florida. "It's this little ditty about how there's no order and no plan and no scheme to life and death and it doesn't mean anything, but it's all right," Byrne said with a chuckle.

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com