I didn’t know what to expect from The Last Station, the film adaptation of Jay Parini’s novel about the last year of Tolstoy’s life, but I have to say I enjoyed it tremendously. As I’m sure you’ve heard, the acting is great: Helen Mirren plays Sophia Tolstaya; Christopher Plummer is the great man; James McAvoy plays Tolstoy’s secretary Valentin Bulgakov; and poor Paul Giamatti gets to be Chertkov. But really what sets this adaptation apart is that the screenplay is so good. It’s multi-layered, well-paced, and handles its deeply flawed characters with great care. Which, of course, it owes to Parini’s novel. This movie made me glad I reinstated my Netflix subscription.
On a somewhat related note, it was reported this week that Sergei Tolstoy, the novelist’s 87 year old great-grandson, now lives in a low-income assisted living facility in DC. He wants to write a book about his service as an undercover officer in the U.S. Army.
Photo credit: Sony Picture Classics