Tuesday, February 16, 2010

MOVIE REVIEW: The Last Station

Number of Nominations: 2 (Best Actress - Helen Mirren, Best Supporting Actor - Christopher Plummer)
Availability in the US: In Select Theatres (Check Showtimes)

The Last Station is a slow, dull, and pointless film which follows the last few months in the life of Leo Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer). The film also deals with the marital and emotional instability between him and his wife Countess Sofya Tolstoy (Helen Mirren).

Mirren and Plummer put in characteristically excellent performances; the emotional depth Mirren portrays is nothing short of extraordinary. The Countess throws fits and tantrums (not entirely unprovoked, I might add) and Tolstoy remains cold and distant from her for almost the entire film. Encouraged by the conniving Vladimir Chertkov—portrayed with a casually evil air by Paul Giamatti in perhaps his best performance since American Splendor—Tolstoy drafts a new will which practically disinherits Sofya, causing her to go even further off the deep end.

Excellent performances from Plummer, Mirren, and Giamatti are unfortunately not enough to save this torpid film. The plot is so dull and thin it could put you to sleep, and the dialogue is extremely predictable. There is nothing interesting here visually, directionally, or storywise to keep the audience’s attention through the nearly two-hour snoozefest. Even the side plot of a love story between Tolstoy’s assistant Valentin (James McAvoy) and one of the other Tolstoyists isn’t enough to keep the audience engaged.

While the performances are certainly deserving of the nominations, it seems unlikely that the Academy would choose to honor such a dull film with any actual awards.

Grade: C

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