Review: The Last Station

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The Pitch: Old man with long beard writes longer books, shouts at wife and rides trains.

The Review: Right, then. An adaptation about the last year of the life of the man who wrote War and Peace, filled with some heavyweight actors and all set in picture-book scenery that wouldn’t look out of place in a Jane Austen adaptation. Sounds delightful.

Wait! Come back! This is quite good, and not what you’d expect at all. Turns out Tolstoy, here warmly filled in by Christopher Plummer, wasn’t quite able to live up to his own ideals. So he gets to have some fun, and so do we.

But any movie that picks up two Academy Award noms for acting is, sooner or later, going to pile on the big acting scenes, and this doesn’t disappoint. Plummer and Mirren are both excellent, and McAvoy and Giamatti give deftly pitched support.

Michael Hoffman keeps things moving expertly, never letting the pace flag, and using the setting to the best advantage, until the station-set finale where all the pieces come together. A life-affirming comment on love and a subtle discussion on principles and morals, in a very enjoyable package.

Why see it at the cinema: To best appreciate the lush visuals and the sense of scale of the station.

The Score: 8/10

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