Sunday, February 28, 2010

Mirren, Plummer Steal 'The Last Station'

Mirren and Plummer are memorable in 'The Last Station'^

It is difficult to sit through the sweet, touching final few minutes of "The Last Station" without smiling, but getting there--the arduous journey to that final stop in Leo Tolstoy's life--was not without an emotional tug of war. That constant confrontation between the utopian and aged Tolstoy and his gentrified, materialistic wife releases brilliant performances from Christopher Plummer and Helen Mirren.

Mirren, in fact, may well have given as good a performance here as she ever has in a career full of them. She is simply superb in a layered, difficult part. Plummer, meanwhile, is the often exasperated husband wanting to live his final days writing and thinking quietly while all around him want something from him and his wife is the loudest of all.

Her Sofya is in direct competition with Paul Giamatti's brilliantly-rendered Tolstoy confident Vladimir Chertkov (leader of the Tolstoyians, the utopian branch of the movie) and the movie simply crackles when the two are on the screen together.

The third leg of the plot involves a young associate (James McAvoy) and his discovery of love in a way he had not imagined it to be (sex, for a beginning) with appealing Irish actress Kerry Condon.

It is a lovely movie, not so much based on the historical Tolstoy (that would have been entirely too much for a movie to handle) as it is--at its most basic--several love stories, often in conflict with each other.

It is a satisfying movie and these days, I'll take that.

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