The Last Station: Better than Anna Karenina

The other night I went to see a movie all by myself. In a movie theater! As I walked by the Paris Theater in New York City on my way to work one day, I saw that The Last Station was playing there and decided, on a lark, to see it after work. I hadn’t read a review of it, didn’t even know if it had a happy ending or not. But the fact that Christopher Plummer (the Baron from The Sound of Music) and Helen Mirren were in it—and there was a picture of them, as old people, in bed with happy faces—made me desperately want to see it. Go figure.

It turns out Christopher Plummer plays Tolstoy, the author of War and Peace and Anna Karenina. And Helen Mirren plays his wife. The essence of what the movie is about is Tolstoy’s struggle to balance his desires as a philosopher and writer with his love for his wife, who has been his partner in every way up until his last years. I don’t want to spoil it for you, except to say that it is a gorgeous, gorgeous movie that is funny, sad, and quite surprising, and meets highly with my approval.

And it’s one of those movies that stays with me in a good way, that I keep thinking about as I fall asleep, and at odd moments during the day. I think about how life in 1910 before cars and electricity and phones was so very, very lovely. I think about being a writer, and having followers who take on your meaning as their own, sometimes in good ways, and sometimes in bad ways. But most of all, I think about love, and the power of love, and how love really hasn’t changed too much over time, except that it is now more possible for more people.

And then I think about how 10 or 15 years ago, all the talk in women’s magazines was that there were no “good movie roles for older women.” That was before the world knew about Helen Mirren. I still quake at the power of her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen. What I love most about her is that she hasn’t tried to use surgery to continue to look young, and she doesn’t try to fit herself into roles that aren’t appropriate. As a result, she looks better than young—she looks fully, richly alive.

Anyway, The Last Station is a really good movie. If you get a chance, go see it!

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4 Responses to The Last Station: Better than Anna Karenina

  1. carllowe February 11, 2010 at 11:35 am #

    You’re right – now that the baby boomers are booming into middle-age and beyond, it is refreshing to see movie roles for “older women.” And more roles for older men, too. A big difference is that now movies can feature a mature person as the main character. Used to be, an older character almost always played a secondary role as grandmother or aging mentor. Good to see them as fully rounded characters in these films.

  2. Donna in Delaware February 12, 2010 at 11:04 am #

    It’s interesting because my husband and I were talking in bed one night last week about what I felt of the difference between beauty in the past and what is considered beauty today. We were, of course discussing women in all walks of life. To make a long discussion short, I said that from my observance over the years, and traveling so much, most of the women in Europe and other parts of the world do not get as much plastic surgery, tucks, permanent makeup and other treatments to stay or look young as we do in America. These women tend to want to age gracefully and ususally do. They don’t be walking around in 4 inch heels at 65 and 70 years of age with skirts past their knees, even if they had the body to show. These women act their age but with a flair and sophistication. I’m am speaking mostly of Western nations. The poorer nations can’t afford these beauty treatments and surgeries. They are not doing to themselves, like say, Joan Rivers, who looks like a living corpse. Why can’t we just age gracefully and let the years tell our stories for us. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with trying to improve your appeareance as long as you do go overboard. Creams, lotions, tonics and eating properly with exercise is the way to do it. Not constant surgeries! I was,like Maria, in awe of the performance of Helen Mirren in The Queen. She is also quite qood as a detective in a series on Masterpiece Theater. I believe that series has ended, but if you missed it, you’ve really missed something!

  3. Donna in Delaware February 12, 2010 at 11:06 am #

    Pardon my errors, I accidentally hit send before I could correct errors or finish.

  4. Laura February 12, 2010 at 12:03 pm #

    Looking forward to seeing this movie and really appreciate your review, BUT WHOA . . . better than Anna Karenina?

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