03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Movie Review: The Last Station

The Last Station is the movie equivalent of what passes for serious drama on Broadway these days: a lot of big-name stars clustered together in a production of an otherwise unremarkable script.

OK, not that big-name: While Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer might pull them in on Broadway, they're not exactly Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman. And, in terms of movie box office, their names mean next to nothing, even with Mirren's Oscar. Nor will the names James McAvoy or Paul Giamatti inspire many ticket sales, as outstanding as Giamatti always is (and McAvoy, for that matter).

Oh, and yeah - it's a movie about Tolstoy. Not an adaptation of Tolstoy - talk about your box-office magnets - but a drama about the Russian writer's final days.

As the opening titles explain, Tolstoy has created a belief system of his own, built around the idea of rejecting worldly possessions and abstaining from sex. His followers, led by Vladimir Chertkov (Giamatti), have nearly convinced Tolstoy (Plummer) to change his will, leaving the rights to his novels in the public domain, rather than leaving the royalties to his family. But his wife, the Countess Sofya Tolstoy (Mirren), is naturally opposed to this idea.

So Chertkov hires Valentin Bulgakov (McAvoy) to be Tolstoy's new secretary and sends him off to Tolstoy's dacha in the woods, where he has the task of recording all events he sees and reporting them back to Chertkov. If he can also persuade Tolstoy to Chertkov's way of thinking about the will, so much the better.

This review continues on my website.