CATEGORIES Reviews
There's at least one train of thought most critics can agree on when it comes to 'The Last Station': Helen Mirren's performance as Leo Tolstoy's wife Sofya is a wonder. She's already been nominated for a Screen Actors Guild award.

The rest of the movie? Reviews are generally favorable, but more in favor of the high-powered cast -- including Christopher Plummer as Tolstoy, James McAvoy and Paul Giamatti -- than anything else, including Michael Hoffman's direction.

'The Last Station' is based on Jay Parini's novel about Tolstoy's final years and most feel the story is not up to the performances or the subject matter. Here's a sampling of reviews and you don't have to be a Tolstoy to comment: There's at least one train of thought most critics can agree on when it comes to 'The Last Station': Helen Mirren's performance as Leo Tolstoy's wife Sofya is a wonder. She's already been nominated for a Screen Actors Guild award.

The rest of the movie? Reviews are generally favorable, but more in favor of the high-powered cast -- including Christopher Plummer as Tolstoy, James McAvoy and Paul Giamatti -- than anything else, including Michael Hoffman's direction.

'The Last Station' is based on Jay Parini's novel about Tolstoy's final years and most feel the story is not up to the performances or the subject matter. Here's a sampling of reviews and you don't have to be a Tolstoy to comment:

Los Angeles Times: "Under the accomplished direction of Michael Hoffman, who also wrote the script, 'The Last Station' is well-acted across the board, but the film's centerpiece is the spectacular back and forth between Christopher Plummer as the great man, a count as well as a writer, and Helen Mirren as Sofya, his wife of 48 years and always a force to be reckoned with. For those who enjoy actors who can play it up without ever overplaying their hands, 'The Last Station' is the destination of choice."

Rolling Stone: "Mirren has worn the crowns of Elizabeth I and II onscreen, 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 Mirren is simply astounding. And Plummer, red-faced with embarrassment at his own desire 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."

New York Times: "'The Last Station,' written and directed by Michael Hoffman ('The Emperor's Club') and based on a novel by Jay Parini, is the kind of movie that gives literature a bad name. Not because it undermines the dignity of a great writer and his work, but because it is so self-consciously eager to flaunt its own gravity and good taste. The humor is mirthless, the pathos is daubed on like jam on a blini, and the shuffling of books and papers substitutes for real intellectual energy."

USA Today: "As Countess Sofya Tolstoy, Mirren is imperious, warm, sardonic and histrionic -- each state portrayed equally convincingly."

'The Last Station's' trailer

Associated Press: "Plummer, sliding sturdily behind Tolstoy's beard, plays the aging author as constantly vacillating between charismatic focus and faraway distraction. He's full of doubt even as his beliefs are hardening ("Our privilege revolts me," he says). But he shows irascible flickers of life and a zest for its messy vulgarity. He recalls a love affair to Bulgakov. He dances at his wife's dirty talk. With pride, he admits he's not much of a Tolstoyan, himself."

Entertainment Weekly: "The war between Leo and Sofya is filtered through the perceptions of an eager, chaste young man (James McAvoy) who arrives at Tolstoy's country home to work as the writer's secretary. He stays to be initiated into lusty manhood by Rome's Kerry Condon, playing an attractive young believer in Tolstoyan utopia -- a sweet, sexy scene shot, as is the whole refined movie, with an aim to please and a love of sunlight."

Newsweek: "'The Last Station' slides gracefully between comedy and pathos (it aims for tragedy, but doesn't quite get there). Both sides are captured in Plummer's sly, volcanic portrait of an icon far less Tolstoyan than his followers. Was this wildly contradictory genius really this lovably irascible? Perhaps not -- but in movie terms, he sure is fun to be around."