The Last Station

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All Odd Couples Aboard!

When my husband and I were first married I can remember looking around me at all the other ‘odd’ married couples and thinking, “I feel sorry for them all, they will never be as happy as us.” Ha! Now, almost ten years later I’ve come to realize that relationships are as diverse as the people who are in them.

The Last Station focuses on two such relationships within a dramatic plot placed within the later most part of Leo Tolstoy’s life when he was focused on leading the Tolstoyan Movement. His most crazed follower, Vladimir Chertkov (Paul Giamatti) hires a secretary Valentin Bulgakov (James McAvoy) to help Tolstoy with whatever he may need. Bulgakov then witnesses the stormy relationship Tolstoy has with his operatic wife, Countess Sofya (Helen Mirren) who puts pressure on Tolstoy to leave his will unchanged so that all of his works and possessions go to her when he dies instead of to the Russian people.

First off let me just sing James McAvoy’s praises. TraLaLaLaLa! He is fantastic! He first caught my attention in The Chronicles of Narnia as Mr. Tumnus. Then I adored him in Penelope and while I hated Atonement, I gave four stars to him anyway. I was able to ignore Anne Hathaway in Becoming Jane because he stole the screen. Now this! When the movie first started I couldn’t stop smiling at his portrayal of the young, nervous and boyishly happy Valentin Bulgakov. He is truly a delight to watch. So, when you put him with Paul Giamatti, Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer…who cares about the plot, cinematography, costumes, landscapes or lighting? You watch it for the acting performances!

But in all seriousness it was very interesting to watch The Last Station because although I’m a big reader I didn’t know much of anything about Tolstoy beyond War and Peace and Anna Karenina. I felt sorry for Tolstoy and wondered, along with his wife, whether he could really love her or not. But, the Countess states it well when Tolstoy says she hasn’t made it easy to love her, “Why should it be easy? I am the work of your life, you are the work of mine. That's what love is!”

Motherly Advice: With my filter settings on medium this baby was still loaded with non-crude sexual talk. One of the things Tolstoy’s movement included was a denouncement of physical love and during the first half of the movie this proves to be difficult for most of the characters (Tolstoy included) and is spoken of often. The topic sort of clears out by the later half of the movie but I’d keep this film to the older teens and above for this reason. ClearPlay also filters out some alcohol consumption, smoking and implied premarital and extramarital relations.

Danielle’-Co-Owner of a Blissfully ‘Odd’ Marriage

PS-Is it a Russian thing to call everyone by their full names all the time?

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