If you're worried this film isn't for you just because you don't have the nerve to tackle War and Peace, don't: The Last Station is less about Russian writer Leo Tolstoy's literature, and more about the eventful and touching final days of his life.
The historical drama explores the troubled marriage and the turbulent final year in the life of Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer), ending with his death at the Astapovo train station.
It is interesting to see there's so much more to the great man there is than his heavy tomes. In his time he was regarded as godlike, and enjoyed a cult following, the Tolstoyan Movement, a group of people who rejected worldly pleasures.
The film has a sparkling cast who all deliver remarkable performances. James McAvoy is impressive as a professional observer who learns the difference between what Tolstoy does and what he writes. Paul Giamatti plays a determined and confident Tolstoyan follower, who sports a remarkable beard even bushier than Tolstoy's. And Plummer and Helen Mirren both deservedly received Oscar nominations for the passion and conviction they display.
The Last Station strikes a nice balance between history and romance while avoiding 'clever' cinematic devices. It has plenty for viewers of all different film tastes. Don't miss the closing credits, which feature actual footage of Tolstoy in scenes resembling those of the film.
YP rating: 4/5