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.
The notion for "The Last Station" came from writer Jay Parini, who was so fascinated to discover that numerous people around Tolstoy in the fatal year of 1910 kept diaries with their versions of events that he wrote a novel telling the story from six points of view. Hoffman's screenplay simplifies this a bit but keeps the story's fine sense of the complexities of human relationships, of the war in Tolstoy's household between the welfare of family and the welfare of mankind. Read the full article here.
QUESTION: Now, I understand that one of the attractions for you to do Last Station was the fact that it had - within this passionate drama, a great sense of humor.
HELEN MIRREN: Yes. It does, it's funny. Most of all, it's funny. Without being gag-driven, or comedic in that sense. It's just very funny about real life. And that's the kind of comedy I always enjoy the most.
QUESTION: Could you identify at all with any facet of this character, or this marriage?
HELEN MIRREN: No, I mean, I'm so not like Sofya. I wish I was more like Sofya. Instead, I get quiet and resentful and cry and angry and sulk. You know, Sofya does not do that. She lets it all out immediately. And I wish I had more of her characteristics. I'm certainly not like her, in that sense. But I think that anybody who's married - of course, they're not confronted with the same kind of problems as Sofya and Tolstoy were at the end of their marriage. Those sort of massive problems. But every marriage goes through those moments of conflict and disagreement. Even quite fundamental disagreement. And - you know, you fight your way through it. One of the most wonderful lines in the film is when Tolstoy says to Sofya, you know, "Yes, I love you. But, why do you make it so hard?" And she says, "Of course it's hard. What do you expect?" She said, you know, "You are that - you're the work of my life. I'm the work of your life. That's what love is." And I think that's a wonderful description of love. Read the full interview here.