There is a breathtaking moment during The Last Station
when Leo Tolstoy (80-year-old Christopher Plummer), turns back to face his followers, a Shakespearean-perfect character in rough-hewn peasant clothing and an impressive beard. He radiates in the golden light, like a pastoral painting. This is a film of dramatic, sometimes overplayed moments balanced by stand-out, Oscar-nominated performances. In his final year on earth, Tolstoy is a superstar, followed with fervour by cultish moustache-twirling Chertkov (Paul Giamatti), bumbling virgin Valentin (James McAvoy) and the early 1990s paparazzi. Tolstoy’s wife Sofya (Helen Mirren, who at 64, can turn clucking like a chicken into sexy foreplay) focuses her desire for marital intimacy into a hysterical obsession over his estate. An insight into Tolstoy’s intellectual pursuits this is not, but The Last Station
does work as the year's most unlikely sex romp, battling head over heart.