You may not have heard of the new movie called "The Last Station," but two of its actors have been nominated for Oscars: Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer.
"The Last Station" shows the tumultuous relationship of Leo Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer) and his wife Sofya (Helen Mirren) in 1910, the last year of the famous Russian author's life. After 48 years of marriage and 13 children, Tolstoy has decided to leave the royalties from all his books to the poor, a move that exasperates his wife who has dedicated her life to helping him.
"If the peasants had money," he tells her across a picnic table full of his followers, "they wouldn't surround themselves as we do with footmen, costing ten rubles a month."
"No!" she shoots back. "They'd spend it on drink and whores... You all think he's Christ," she says to his followers. And as Tolstoy shakes his head in denial, she adds, "He thinks he's Christ."
Mirren pulls out all the stops for this role. She really deserves her best actress nomination. Pressed up against a window of the house, trying to over hear Tolstoy's followers, Sofya losses her balances and falls into the room. From the floor she yells, "You're all plotting against me in my own house!"
She's right. Paul Giamatti as Vladimir Chertkov, the leader of Tolstoy's followers, is scheming to deprive her and her children of their rightful inheritance. He's even enlisted the naive young man who serves as Tolstoy's new secretary to spy for him.
As that always sneezing secretary, the excellent James Mcavoy is present for many of the couple's arguments. He tries to leave the dinner table when Tolstoy starts in. But Sofya won't let him. "Despite good cause for it, I have never stopped loving you," Tolstoy tells Sofya. "Of course," she replies before Tolstoy adds, "but God knows you don't make it easy."
"Why should it be easy?" she retorts. "I'm the work of your life. You're the work of mine. That's what love is."
As the aged Tolstoy, Plummer gives as good as he gets from Mirren. He's been nominated for best supporting actor. Neither will win, but hopefully the nominations alone will motivate more people to see this fine film.
Here's some good news for movie buffs: starting this weekend Consolidated is showing all the Oscar nominated short films, both live action and animation, at the Kahala Theaters. My favorite animation, Nick Park's newest Wallace and Grommit film called "A Matter of Loaf and Death."