Fellow Movie Lovers
THE LAST STATION
With great expectations I have been desperately yearning for the opening of this film and joyously I can report that my desires were not only requited but surpassed my wildest anticipations!!!!!!! It is a tour de force at every level.
Directed by Michael Hoffman based on the biographical 1990 novel by Jay Parini, it is the wrenching tale of Leo Tolstoy’s final year; his body is frail but it still shelters a splendid mind.
It is spectacularly filmed, and unlike Avatar, glasses are not required to be embraced,
captured, and sucked into the lush palatial landscape of early twentieth century Russia.
The Tolstoy estate or commune is the Mecca for the Tolstoy disciples: practicing vegetarians, tilling the soil and abstaining from sexual intimacy, a utopian lifestyle. But tranquility ceases to exist when we are confronted with the tempestuous and fiercely competitive Leo and Sofia (Sofya).
Leo Tolstoy born in 1829 to Russian nobility, and losing his parents at a young age led him on a spiritual quest, resulting in dissatisfaction with his elitist birth right. He traveled to Europe and discovered the roots of Christianity: Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, and the teachings of St. Ignatius; eventually becoming a Christian anarchist and pacifist. Even the title The Last Station has strong religious connotations. His philosophy of non violent resistance influenced Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.
Christian, Buddhist and Hindu asceticism of renunciation, paving the way to holiness was pivotal in his excommunication from the Russian Orthodox Church and the cause of the incredulous strife between Leo and Sofya, his wife of forty-eight years.
Christopher Plummer overwhelms as Leo; he is sick, exhausted, still in love with his wife but will fight with his last breath to bequeath his fortune to the people of Russia.
Sofya is sixteen years his junior, his muse (he started War and Peace the year they were married,1862) his editor and deepest confident. Her fecundity was stratospheric, she had thirteen children of which five perished at birth. She is a force to match any catastrophe nature could visit upon man.
Helen Mirren as Sofya is magnetic. She exudes in spades: sexuality, vibrancy, wisdom. She inhabits the soul, mind and spirit of Sofya and gifts her a legacy justly warranted. Rarely will you see on the screen a performance of such candor, power, love; she sinks her teeth into your psyche and you realize that there is no one more beautiful or desirable. This woman will wage war against insurmountable odds for what is her due. Oh, how we passionately root for her success.
The Academy Award is rightfully hers!
The casting is exceptional. Paul Giamatti as Vladimir Chertkov, Tolstoy’s Rasputin or Svengali, infuses the character with a delicious touch of cunning and skullduggery; James McAvoy is superb as Valentin Bulgakov, the twenty-three year old scribe and pure Tolstoyan whose idealism slowly melts into realism; and Kerry Condon as the free spirited Masha is resplendent, an Aphrodite to the innocent Valentin.
This is as good as it gets so devour every succulent scene!!!