The Last Station (2009/Sony Blu-ray)
Picture: B Sound: B Extras: B- Film: B-
Tolstoy is an important figure in and out of literature, controversial and
unique to this day. The author of the
epic book (and inspirations for several epic films) War & Peace, he has
become a shorthand for intellectuals and more often lately, know it alls who
know nothing and think they have something going for them they don’t (unless
they know they are full of it), but The
Last Station (2009) shows the man (played here by Christopher Plummer) as
more than a myth or icon to be exploited.
twilight of his life, he intends to give up all of his wealth form all of his
hard work and donate it to the USSR for “the people” and to show his “disdain”
for material things and wealth, but his wife Sofia (Helen Mirren) is not so
sure he should be that principled and they start to debate the point as time
ticks away on a final decision. It is a
relevant a debate as ever ands this film, does a decent job showing it and
putting it into a proper context.
Michael Hoffman (who adapted the Jay Parini novel) cannot make this work all
the way, despite the rich production and an equally rich cast that includes
James McAvoy (Atonement, Last King Of Scotland, Wanted), Paul Giamatti (Cinderella Man), Anne-Marie Duff and
Kerry Condon. Not the best director, he
is competent enough to get films made, but the resulting works (Soapdish, Restoration, One Fine Day,
The Emperor’s Club, et al) have
ranged from fluff to boring dramas. This
is his best film to date easily and by default.
The accolades received are justified.
2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image was shot on 35mm film and looks pretty
good here, from the color to the sets to the costumes to the locations, but
some styling and some minor limits ion detail and depth. Otherwise, this is a solid image as lensed by
Director of Photography Sebastian Edschmid, whose work includes Almost Heaven and Adam Resurrected. The DTS-HD
MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 mix is dialogue-based, but is nicely recorded
and with its Sergei Yevtushenko score, has a nice soundfield throughout. Extras include Outtakes, Deleted Scenes,
Blu-ray exclusive BD Live & movieIQ interactive features and a feature
length audio commentary including Plummer, Mirren, Hoffman and others.
- Nicholas Sheffo