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The Last Station (2010)



Average Rating: 6.7/10
Reviews Counted: 139
Fresh: 98 | Rotten: 41

Michael Hoffman's script doesn't quite live up to its famous subject, but this Tolstoy biopic benefits from a spellbinding tour de force performance by Helen Mirren.


Average Rating: 7.1/10
Critic Reviews: 35
Fresh: 28 | Rotten: 7

Michael Hoffman's script doesn't quite live up to its famous subject, but this Tolstoy biopic benefits from a spellbinding tour de force performance by Helen Mirren.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 20,513

My Rating

Movie Info

Set in the last tumultuous years of famed Russian author Leo Tolstoy's life, centers on the battle for his soul waged by his wife Sofya Andreyevna and his leading disciple Vladimir Cherkov. Torn between his professed doctrine of poverty and chastity and the reality of his enormous wealth, his thirteen children and a life of hedonism, Tolstoy makes a dramatic flight from his home. Too ill to continue beyond the tiny rail station at Astapovo, he believes that he is dying alone, while over one



Michael Hoffman

Jun 22, 2010


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All Critics (139) | Top Critics (35) | Fresh (98) | Rotten (41) | DVD (5)

Literature lasts, but sometimes, The Last Station suggests, the ties that bind last, too.

March 18, 2010
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Some critics have derided the central performances as scenery-chewing excess, but these Tolstoys are characters who demand histrionics, and Mirren and Plummer are magnificent in delivering on those demands.

March 2, 2010 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The Last Station is a moving, fictionalized account of a piece of real Russian history, a tour de force for an actor who's in his prime in his 70s and 80s, and a real return to form for a director most at home in period pieces.

February 24, 2010 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Engaging performers all, but the movie's superficial flummery is slightly exasperating when the true-life events would have provided an even richer palette of ideas.

February 19, 2010 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's rewarding for a film to render rarefied ideas so concretely, but The Last Station works best as a battle of wills between husband and wife.

February 18, 2010 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Director and writer Michael Hoffman, adapting Jay Parini's novel, lets the history play out, and this little-known chapter plays out nicely indeed.

February 12, 2010 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Mature Tolstoy biopic recounts his conflicted last days.

December 31, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

The Last Station is the kind of adult drama that I'm just thankful is still being made. Therefore, I was ecstatic to also find it to be rather good.

October 21, 2010 Full Review Source: Quickflix

full review at Movies for the Masses

July 29, 2010 Full Review Source: Movies for the Masses
Movies for the Masses

Feels akin to using Tolstoy's life to write a greeting card.

July 8, 2010 Full Review Source: Window to the Movies
Window to the Movies

La película es un placer de principio a fin, no sólo por su valor testimonial y su estupenda reconstrucción de época, sino sobre todo por un notable elenco donde se lucen particularmente Helen Mirren y Christopher Plummer.

July 4, 2010 Full Review Source: Uruguay Total
Uruguay Total

All of the performances are universally stellar, making this not unlike last year's Doubt %u2014 a solid, if otherwise unremarkable film that provides a playground for performers of prodigious talents.

July 4, 2010 Full Review Source: DCist

Plummer as the alleged Tolstoy in question, is a grumpy elder aristocrat presiding over a kinky retro-hippie spiritual commune, where worshipful 19th century Russian groupies of the carnal variety frolic free love style in the Eastern European wilderness.

June 11, 2010 Full Review Source: NewsBlaze

A charming and compelling account of Tolstoy's last year.

June 9, 2010 Full Review Source:

Despite its strong performances The Last Station is a bland and middle-of-the-road period film with faint literary pretensions.

April 10, 2010 Full Review Source: Cinema Autopsy | Comment (1)
Cinema Autopsy

This handsome, well-tuned adaptation of Jay Parini's Tolstoy biography avoids being a dour subtitled slog by its strong casting, layered contrasts of love and duty, and admirable air of enthusiasm.

April 8, 2010 Full Review Source: Sunday Times (Australia)
Sunday Times (Australia)

The acting is excellent by this very capable cast, and the story is interesting. The cinematography, by Sebastian Edschmid (Adam Resurrected) is also excellent. The outdoor scenes are lush and gorgeous.

April 4, 2010 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

Despite all the bitterness and skulduggery, The Last Station is surprisingly warm and spirited in tone.

April 2, 2010 Full Review Source: The Australian
The Australian

In the end the film is quite moving, and the original home movie and newsreel footage we see over the end credits adds a potent touch to the drama we've already seen.

April 1, 2010 Full Review Source: At the Movies (Australia)
At the Movies (Australia)

Helen Mirren gives a scorching performance as Sophia: aggrieved, charming, seductive, furious, painted by the acolytes as hysterical, but also at times a woman with her own dignity.

April 1, 2010 Full Review Source: MovieTime, ABC Radio National
MovieTime, ABC Radio National

The Last Station has got its charms, but it's hard to take its big ideas too seriously, mostly because Hoffman's pitch is a little too cute.

April 1, 2010 Full Review Source:

Impressively directed and finely acted, this film gives real insight into the life of a fascinating man.

April 1, 2010 Full Review Source: FILMINK (Australia)
FILMINK (Australia)

A superb cast all at their best help breath life into this biographical story of the last chapter of writer and philosopher (and liberal leaning aristocrat) Leo Tolstoy

March 26, 2010 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

Intensely told and beautifully realised reality with its gorgeous settings and accurate depiction of the era.

March 26, 2010 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

Two love stories -- one at the end of Tolstoy's turbulent 48-year marriage, the other at its beginning -- intersect at a rail station.

March 25, 2010 Full Review Source: Moving Pictures Magazine
Moving Pictures Magazine

The Last Station is indeed well done, very moving, and informative, but it left me a little cold at the end. Perhaps I just felt frustrated at how little the world changes even when people with good ideas come along.

March 20, 2010 Full Review Source: Cinerina

Audience Reviews for The Last Station

I was really impressed by this film....not only by the way this story from history was told, but by the actors as well. Christopher Plummer was absolutely wonderful in the role of Tolstoy. Helen Mirren is a fantastic actress, and is terrific as Tolstoy's wife of many years.. James McAvoy was great as Tolstoy's assistant. All in all a really well done film, with a wonderful lesson in Russian history.
November 18, 2013

Super Reviewer

Any chance to see Helen Mirren work is worth the price of admission. "The Last Station" is a tour de force for Miren in full bloom - a force of nature that can't be denied, elevating what would have been a rather pedestrian and unsatisfactory period piece to moments of brilliance.

It's not that her co-stars Christopher Plummer (as Tolstoy), and Paul Giamatti (as the leader behind the "Tolstoy movement") don't hold their own, and really, the acting in this film is more than passable, but make no mistake, this is Mirren's film.

Mirren plays the countess, married for over 40 years to "the great man" Tolstoy, a national icon, who in his senior years begins ruminating on the class system and entitlement of the rich. With guidance from Giamatti he begins a movement that rejects religion as well as the accumulation of wealth - to the point where he wants to change his will, thereby giving the complete rights of his "intellectual property" - in other words royalties from his novels - to "the people", something that goes against the grain with the countess, who not only wants to look after the well being of their children and grand children, but is irked by not being recognized for helping Tolstoy write the books to begin with.

So there you have the gist of the story. Giamatti is the snake, trying to convince Tolstoy to "do the right thing" and donate his works to the people (and thus further solidifying his own position as the head of Tolstoyism - an odd and evolving manifesto that no-one really seems to have a firm grasp of). He is of course at loggerheads with Mirren, who is alternately compliant to her husband, but demanding of his attention. She rants, raves, cajoles, entreats, flirts - whatever is necessary to get Tolstoy's attention and feel his love.

You could have a tight little story here, but the film shoots at something larger, including the story of a young "secretary", brought in by Giamatti to spy on the countess, while aiding Tolstoy in getting his affairs in order. The young man lives in a commune set up on the far reaches of Tolstoy's estate, and there he falls for the commune school teacher. I suppose that this affair is supposed to contrast the "old love" that Tolstoy and the Countess have for one another with the new, fresh love of the secretary and teacher - but, like so much in the film, seems empty and gratuitous.

At the core, the film's real failure comes at the beginning and the end. On the front end you have a quote from Tolstoy that everything he has written comes from his knowledge of love. Nice quote, but really, it's just a sound byte and you can believe it if you care to... but what comes next is really galling - the film proclaims, in large lettering, that Tolstoy was the greatest novelist ever. Ok, by whose standards, and really, how can you quantify "greatness" in an art form? That bit alone took me a lot to get past - and Mirren does a great job of making me forget it, until the ending hits you like a melodramatic ton of bricks. Again, Mirren does a great job with what she's given here, but the tag with the reuniting of the secretary and the school teacher seemed so.... tidy (and unnecessary).

Another little scab I'd like to pick at - why is it that virtually every period piece requires a shot of a steam train bustling through an idyllic countryside? I swear I've seen virtually the same shot in at least ten films (and I'm not talking about the necessary train ride that gives the film its title here - the "money" shot comes early in the film).

In actuality, this film comes off more as a theatrical play - and perhaps would be better suited to the boards, where it becomes all about performance (something this has in spades), rather than content.
December 24, 2011
paul sandberg

Super Reviewer

Intoxicating. Infuriating. Impossible. Love.

This movie is good and has some important significance on the life of Leo Tolstoy. Helen Mirren, Christopher Plummer and James McAvoy all gave truly really good performances. I don't rate it so high because it's not really my type of movie and to be sincere it bored me a little but i'm sure this is one great film which many enjoyed.

In 1910, acclaimed Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy, in the later stage of his life, works rather than a writer but as the leader of the Tolstoyan Movement, whose basic tenets are brotherly love and world peace through pacifism, and a denouncement of material wealth and physical love. His chief follower is Vladimir Chertkov, who does whatever he requires to advance the cause. Chertkov hires a young man named Valentin Bulgakov to be Tolstoy's personal secretary in carrying out this work. Once ensconced in the life on the estate where much of the work is taking place, Bulgakov quickly learns that many there take from the movement only what he/she wants/believes. Also chief amongst the movement's wants is the deeding of all Tolstoy's writings to the people so that after his death it will become public domain. Tolstoy's wife, the Countess Sofya Andreevna Tolstoy, believes that her husband's writings are rightfully hers after he passes, as she wants and believes she deserves the monetary benefits derived from such. This places a strain between those in the movement, especially Chertov and the Tolstoy's daughter Sasha, and the Countess. Bulgatov acts as the mediator between the parties, he who feels he needs to do what is truly in Tolstoy's heart regardless of what Tolstoy may say or do.
May 27, 2011
Manu Gino

Super Reviewer

Great performances by all.
March 13, 2011
Morgan Salem

Super Reviewer

    1. Leo Tolstoy: Despite good cause for it, I have never stopped loving you.
    2. Sofya Tolstoy: Of course
    3. Leo Tolstoy: But God knows you don't make it easy
    4. Sofya Tolstoy: Why should it be easy? I am the work of your life, you are the work of mine. That's what love is
    – Submitted by Mati M (12 months ago)
    1. Leo Tolstoy: She simply spoke the phrase, my phrase as if she had read my mind. In that moment, we both knew we would always be together. And for those first years, we were incredibly, terrifyingly, happy.
    – Submitted by Mati M (12 months ago)
    1. Sofya Tolstoy: Look at me! This is who I am, *this* is what you married. We may be older, maybe we're old, but I'm still your little chicken. And you're still my big cock.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
    1. Sofya Tolstoy: I'm your little bird, you know the sounds I make.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
View all quotes (4)

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Foreign Titles

  • Ein russischer Sommer (DE)
  • Tolstoï, le dernier automne (FR)
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