By Matt Brunson
THE LAST STATION
DIRECTED BY Michael Hoffman
STARS Helen Mirren, Christopher Plummer
Helen Mirren earned her fourth Academy Award nomination for The Last Station she won the award for 2006's The Queen so the real pleasure here is witnessing 80-year-old veteran Christopher Plummer finally score his first career nod. Alas, he's been tagged in the Best Supporting Actor category, meaning that anyone hoping this loose dramatization of the final chapter in the life of Leo Tolstoy will primarily center on the Russian author will be sorely disappointed to see him frequently shunted off to the sidelines.
Instead, most of the focus falls on Valentin Bulgakov (James McAvoy, winningly playing the naive outsider for the umpteenth time), a virginal lad who seeks to serve Tolstoy but finds himself caught in a power play between the writer's wife (Mirren) and his advisor (Paul Giamatti). The majority of the film is likable if rarely inspiring, but once the action moves from the Tolstoy estate to the railroad line for a grueling final half-hour, the picture suddenly feels as long as King Vidor's 3-1/2-hour screen adaptation of Tolstoy's War and Peace.