Leo Tolstoy seems to have been surrounded by mad diarists. Almost all those around him towards the end of his life were scribbling away furiously at all times, wanting to note who said what and why and when. The 1910 solution to the lack of Twitter one imagines.
The Last Station provides a useful insight to the last months of the life of Tolstoy for someone like me who has to admit to knowing next to nothing. However, my companion pointed out that they made a few things up. Sofya Tolstoy offered to throw herself under a train like Anna Karenina, and was generally fairly neurotic, but who wouldn’t be when surrounded by Rasputin types? Especially when some of them were your own children.
Tolstoy was clearly a superstar in his day, and had his crazy followers like Chertkov, as well as his lovingly devoted fans, like Bulgakov, the celibate vegetarian who sneezes when nervous. Achoo. Tolstoy’s ideas may have been both interesting and revolutionary, but his little clan looked mostly like premature American hippies.
Very nicely filmed, in Russia and in Germany, The Last Station had more birch trees than you could shake a stick at. Some good train sets too, but I fail to see why Tolstoy had to rattle off in what looked like third class, when the Countess had her own ‘royal’ train to follow him in.
Good story if you want to know a little about Tolstoy, but perhaps not the most riveting film this year. Star studded cast, and perfect for fans of James McAvoy, what with him being in almost every scene. Christopher Plummer has aged well and Paul Giamatti did benign evil perfectly. And Helen Mirren is Helen Mirren.
At Cornerhouse from this weekend.