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"THE LAST STATION"
(2009) (Helen Mirren, Christopher Plummer) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Minor Minor Heavy Minor Moderate
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Heavy None Mild None Minor
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Heavy Minor Extreme Heavy Moderate


QUICK TAKE:
Historical Drama: The last months of Russian author Leo Tolstoy's life are chronicled, focusing on the anguish he felt in deciding between leaving the publication rights to his great novels to his wife or to the Russian people.
PLOT:
In 1910, the great Russian author Leo Tolstoy (CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER) is in the final year of his life, and he is being pulled from all sides as to whether he will leave the publication rights to such great works as "War and Peace" and "Anna Karenina" to his wife, Sofya (HELEN MIRREN), or to "the Russian people." As leader of the organization that preserves and distributes Tolstoy's books and philosophies, Vladimir Chertkov (PAUL GIAMATTI) pushes hard for the latter as it would secure the Tolstoyan Movement's finances for decades.

Chertkov, though, must deal with the force of nature that is Sofya Tolstoy, who has learned over the years how to use her mood swings and grand emotions to manipulate her husband and those around her into doing her bidding. Sofya, of course, is angling for the publication rights to secure her and her children's futures. She does not adhere to Tolstoy's central beliefs that wealth should be distributed and material possessions and financial security are inherently evil and corrupting.

Chertkov has managed to sway Sofya's daughter, Sasha (ANNE-MARIE DUFF), to his side. He even goes so far as to place a loyal member of the movement in Sofya and Leo's house as a spy. The man's name is Valentin (JAMES McAVOY), who agrees to serve as Tolstoy's secretary and is so dedicated to the cause that he has taken a vow of celibacy in its name. But his willpower is challenged by Masha (KERRY CONDON), a sexually aggressive fellow Tolstoyan who has a different take on the great author's works and teachings.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
It's unlikely. It's hard enough to get kids interested in literature, in general, much less Russian literature from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Still, some older teens with an interest in novels and the classics may be drawn to the film.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For a scene of sexuality/nudity.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER plays the great Russian Leo Tolstoy in his final year of life, a period of time where he was pressured to change his will by leaders of the Tolstoyan Movement so that they would own the rights to his great literary works.
  • HELEN MIRREN plays Tolstoy's wife, a seductive and manipulative woman who is not above feigning illness to get her way. She is prone to fits of anger and extreme mood swings, frequently clashing with the leaders of her husband's philosophical movement over her husband's care and last will.
  • JAMES McAVOY plays a young and devoted Tolstoyan who is hired to serve as Tolstoy's secretary. He is a virgin and has made a vow of celibacy, but those values become compromised when he meets and eventually has sex with Masha.
  • KERRY CONDON plays the woman who turns Valentin's head, a Tolstoyan who is more free-spirited than the other followers. She is a casual smoker and has had an affair with a married man.
  • PAUL GIAMATTI plays a loyal disciple of Tolstoy and the leader of the Tolstoyan Movement, who goes to considerable lengths to try and get the author to sign over the publication rights to his great novels.
  • ANNE-MARIE DUFF plays Tolstoy's daughter, who is fiercely loyal to her father and the organization that has sprung up to promulgate his philosophies. This brings her into direct conflict with her mother, who fears she will be left out of her dying husband's will.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


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    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this historical drama that has been rated R. Profanity consists of a minor expletive, while various colorful phrases are also uttered. Some sexually related dialogue is also present, along with one sex scene (showing movement and nudity), another scene in which sex between two unmarried people has clearly just happened off-screen, and related nudity (bare breasts).

    Violence consists of one character shooting a photograph multiple times with a pistol. There is one suicide by drowning attempt and one threat of suicide by train.

    Bad attitudes are present throughout, as is some potentially imitative behavior, various thematic elements, and tense family material. Some brief drinking is present, as is one instance of smoking.

    If you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who may be interested in seeing it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Throughout the film, there are several meals in which drink is consumed. But it is never made explicitly clear that the beverages served at these meals are alcoholic in nature. In other words, you don't see the liquid poured, there are no bottles present, and no one seems to be demonstrating the effects of inebriation.
  • Sofya complains that if Tolstoy were to leave the poor their family fortune, they would only spend it on "drink and whores."
  • A reporter waiting at a train depot pours himself a glass of vodka from a bottle.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • Valentin sneezes when he gets nervous, which is often. He does so when he meets Tolstoy for the first time, when Masha enters his room in a nightgown, and when Sofya questions him on his love life. No snot is flung during these sneezes, but there is a brief "spray" visible on a couple of occasions.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Chertkov orders Valentin to spy on what goes on in the Tolstoy home and keep a diary.
  • Sofya complains that if Tolstoy were to leave the poor their family fortune, they would only spend it on "drink and whores."
  • Upon arriving in a village staffed solely by Tolstoy devotees, Valentin senses much jealousy.
  • Sofya feigns illness to guilt Tolstoy into coming home.
  • Tolstoy likens his wife to a "spoiled child."
  • Masha tells Valentin of a past affair she had with a married man and having sex with him in a gymnasium.
  • Throughout the film, Sofya speaks ill of Chertkov, calling him everything from a "sycophant" and a "pervert" to a "weasel" and "the Devil himself."
  • Chertkov openly plots against Sofya, aiming to deny her the publication rights to Tolstoy's literary works so that he instead signs them over to the Tolstoyan Movement to fund their activities.
  • At one point, Chertkov ends a heated argument with Sofya with the line: "If I had a wife like you, I would have blown my brains out or gone to America!"
  • Chertkov has Masha re-assigned to far-away Moscow to break her and Valentin up.
  • Tolstoy ultimately makes the decision to leave his wife and house, exiting in the middle of the night without telling her. He does, however, leave a letter.
  • Sasha helps him leave, and he promises that he will send for her as soon as he finds a place to settle.
  • Chertkov denies Sofia admission into the station house where Tolstoy lies dying.
  • Chertkov lies to Tolstoy on his deathbed with regards to Sofya and whether she has come to be with him.
  • Members of the press hound Sofya outside the train station where Tolstoy has come to die, asking her inappropriate questions.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Sofya repeatedly shoots a photo of Chertkov with her pistol. The scene starts out comical, but turns tense when Tolstoy and Valentin run into the room and try to coax her to surrender the weapon.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Sofya repeatedly shoots a photo of Chertkov with her pistol. The scene starts out comical, but turns tense when Tolstoy and Valentin run into the room and try to coax her to surrender the weapon.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "He's a sorry, old, tight-ass stick in the mud," "You are a stone-hearted bitch of a daughter," "You're a Count, for God's sake," "You all think he is Christ! He thinks he is Christ," "You can see what a pompous fool he is," "Idiot," "He's a sycophant and a pervert," "You little weasel," "I'm surrounded by morons," "You are a prig," "I'm still your little chicken, and you're still my big cock. Let me make you crow," "It's none of the world's bloody business," "I hate you, and I hate what you've become," "I'm the leper outside the gate, while he sleeps with the Devil himself," "If I had a wife like you, I would have blown my brains out or gone to America!"
  • Sofya screams at Valentin and Tolstoy's doctor to stop writing things down as they are being said.
  • Masha comes into Valentin's room, a man she does not yet know but is attracted to, sits down on his bed and begins to talk with him.
  • Sofya feigns illness to guilt Tolstoy into coming home.
  • To further manipulate Tolstoy, Sofya threatens suicide by throwing herself in front of a moving train.
  • Sofya steps out of a second-story window, walks along a ledge, and eavesdrops on Tolstoy consulting with Chertkov, his daughter and his doctor with regards to his will.
  • Valentin sneaks up behind Masha and playfully lifts her up.
  • Sofya repeatedly shoots a photo of Chertkov with her pistol. The scene starts out comical, but turns tense when Tolstoy and Valentin run into the room and try to coax her to surrender the weapon.
  • Sofya throws and breaks many dishes out of frustration.
  • A railroad employee is seen asleep on the job.
  • Sofya throws herself into a pond in an attempt to commit suicide.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A considerable amount of very dramatic, melancholy music occurs in the film, especially late in the story as Tolstoy draws closer to death.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 1 "ass" and 1 use of "For God's sake."
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Chertkov tells Valentin that Tolstoy's previous assistant "ruined" two of his maids, meaning he had sex with them.
  • The discussion then turns to Valentin's sex life, and the young man insists he has taken a vow of abstinence and is a virgin.
  • Sofya complains that if Tolstoy were to leave the poor their family fortune, they would only spend it on "drink and whores."
  • Valentin tells Masha that Tolstoy is surprisingly interested in his sexual relationships with women. Masha then wonders aloud the same thing.
  • Masha tells Valentin of a past affair she had with a married man and having sex with him in a gymnasium.
  • Tolstoy recalls a woman he once had sex with, "sometimes twice a day." He confesses to Valentin that he still remembers the "taste of her."
  • Valentin and Masha make love. Masha is topless during the scene and on top of him. In losing his virginity, Valentin climaxes fast and suddenly. He then swears he can do it better if she will let him.
  • The next morning, Marsha -- still topless -- wakes up in Valentin's arms. A village man knocks on their door and tells them that if they "behave like rabbits," they should "go live in the woods."
  • Valentin and Masha are shown cuddling in bed immediately following a second, off-screen sexual encounter. She is clearly topless, and we briefly see her bare breasts a couple of times as the bed covers move.
  • Sofya seduces Tolstoy into her bed by making chicken sounds that cause him to crow repeatedly like a rooster. She tells him suggestively, "I'm still your little chicken, and you're still my big cock. Let me make you crow."
  • To woo Masha, Valentin announces to all in earshot, "In my heart, I have committed the act of copulation many times!"
  • SMOKING
  • Masha is shown smoking one evening as Valentin writes nearby.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Sasha is openly defiant to her mother, Sofya, on numerous occasions and clearly on the side of Chertkov and the movement.
  • Sofya, Tolstoy and Sasha share a breakfast with Valentin and Tolstoy's doctor in which Sofya clashes with her husband and daughter's political beliefs regarding the poor and the distribution of the family wealth.
  • Sofya looks out a window at Tolstoy and Sasha and tells her son that she wishes all of her children were like him. Interestingly, the son is never seen in the film again.
  • Sasha sits in on discussions between Tolstoy and Chertkov to rob Sofya of her inheritance. Sofya climbs out a window and onto a second-floor ledge to eavesdrop on the conversation. She eventually barges in through the window and yells at her husband and daughter for plotting against her.
  • Tolstoy chastises Sofya for feigning illness to get him back to the manor.
  • Sofya eavesdrops on Tolstoy and Sasha conferring with Chertkov to rob her of her inheritance. She busts into the room and calls them on it.
  • Tolstoy and Sofya have a bitter argument regarding money at the dinner table, which prompts Sofya to break numerous dishes and then fall to the floor where she lands on a fork.
  • Tolstoy leaves his wife in the dead of night, but takes care to tell Sasha that he will send for her when the time is right.
  • The following day, Sofya reads the letter Tolstoy left her and tries to commit suicide in front of Sasha and the hired help by throwing herself into a pond.
  • Sofya and Sasha later have words when she backs up Chertkov in denying Sofya admission to seeing Tolstoy on his death bed.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The life and literary works of Leo Tolstoy.
  • The often harmful effects of a last will and testament on family dynamics, especially when there is a lot of money involved.
  • Suicide attempts.
  • Vows of celibacy.
  • The media feeding frenzies that often spring up when a famous person is on the verge of death or has just died.
  • VIOLENCE
  • When Sofya blocks Tolstoy's path, he forcibly removes her hand.
  • Sofya repeatedly shoots a photo of Chertkov with her pistol.
  • Sofya barges in from a window ledge, slips on a long curtain, and falls flat on her back.
  • Tolstoy and Sofya have a bitter argument regarding money at the dinner table, which prompts Sofya to break numerous dishes and then fall to the floor where she lands on a fork that sticks in her back. There is no blood, however.
  • Sofya throws herself into a pond in an attempt to commit suicide.



  • Reviewed February 13, 2010 / Posted February 19, 2010

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