Combustible Celluloid
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With: James McAvoy, Christopher Plummer, Helen Mirren, Paul Giamatti, Anne-Marie Duff, Kerry Condon, John Sessions, Patrick Kennedy, David Masterson, Nenad Lucic, Tomas Spencer
Written by: Michael Hoffman, based on a novel by Jay Parini
Directed by: Michael Hoffman
MPAA Rating: R for a scene of sexuality/nudity
Running Time: 112
Date: 09/04/2009

The Last Station (2009)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Boring Pieces

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Adapted from a novel by Jay Parini, Michael Hoffman's film The Last Station goes off tentatively with too many half-formed characters in too many directions. Only one of them gets a real foothold: Sofya Tolstoy. And even then, it's only thanks to the skill of Helen Mirren that she comes to life. Mirren brings a kind of feisty annoyance that transcends the rest of the material, which alternates between bland comedy and bland drama.

Valentin Bulgakov (James McAvoy) lands a job assisting the famous author Leo Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer). It's during a period in which outside forces are trying to manipulate his fortune in an attempt to live simply, according to the "rules" Tolstoy has written about. Sofya wants everyone to leave her husband and her children's inheritance alone. Meanwhile, Valentin falls in love with Masha (Kerry Condon) and breaks his vow of celibacy, and Paul Giamatti sneers and leers as the evil bureaucrat Vladimir Chertkov.

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