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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
This romantic period film delves into serious questions about loyalty to family, country, and self; there’s also much discussion about the importance of loving and being loved and how that may be the path to salvation.
Positive Role Models
Tolstoy is almost saintly here, though only just. Though his love for his wife -- and vice versa -- is unwavering, he wrestles with larger questions that may supersede his family, much to his wife’s chagrin. Though she seems quarrelsome, it’s apparent that she acts out of concern and love for him. Valentin is the prism through which Tolstoy’s life and works are viewed, and his struggle to comprehend them is understandable and commendable.
Violence & Scariness
Lots of loud quarrels between a husband and his wife -- they adore each other, but they can’t seem to agree on what to do about one major decision. A despondent woman attempts to drown herself in a lake.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A woman propositions a man she barely knows; later, they have sex (only her breasts are visible). Some candid conversations about sex and marriage and celibacy. The Tolstoys seduce each other with sexual banter.
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Nothing stronger than “tighta--,“ “bitch,” and “moron.”
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this period drama recounting Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy's last months, while powerful and well acted, isn't too likely to appeal to kids. It has moments of both intense squabbling and gentle loving between the writer and his wife. Many of their fights are loud and painfully honest (though not venomous), and younger teens may find them disturbing. There's also a sex scene with partial nudity (a woman's breasts) and a little swearing (though "bitch" is about as strong as it gets). To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
First, the visuals: Gorgeous. Russia is verdant in spring, majestic in the winter. And then there's the acting. To watch The Last Station is to witness three superb thespians flexing their muscles: Plummer gives an accomplished turn as the legendary writer; Mirren is a riveting spitfire as Sofya, and McAvoy impresses as the spectator to their operatic fights and quietly moving moments as man and wife. Their combined talents are why we go to the movies in the first place. Nearly all of the other characters in this riveting historical drama are also written well, though Giamatti's Chertkov is a fuzzy rendering. He's made more villainous than necessary, perhaps for cinematic tension.
Though the arguments so painstakingly painted here sometimes reach daytime-drama levels -- plates are thrown, voices boom! -- The Last Station ultimately does succeed, primarily by re-emphasizing Tolstoy's enormous reach and profound gifts. In a world teeming with superficialities -- including writers who rely on trickery rather than wisdom and insight -- it's a welcome reminder.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.