112 minutes| Germany-Russia-U.K.| 2009| Colour| Dolby Stereo| Digital

This film was released 19th February 2010, and is no longer screening.

A stellar cast and genuinely fascinating subject matter make this fictionalised account of the final days of the great Russian writer Leo Tolstoy an engrossing watch. Since the year is 1910, it’s almost surprising to see the great man (a suitably imposing Christopher Plummer) treated as a multi-media celebrity, yet reporters and newsreel cameramen dog his steps, covering the ongoing dispute between Sofya (Helen Mirren), his wife of some 46 years, and the Tolstoyan political movement that’s contesting the valuable publishing rights for War and Peace. Each side seeks to use Tolstoy’s new secretary (James McAvoy) to discover what the old man’s really thinking, yet the elderly author is just as interested in this earnest young man’s romantic misadventures. The ensuing ructions are as much farce as tragedy, as the seasoned performers relish the theatricality of the occasion, while the film engagingly illustrates the fine line between heartfelt passion and sheer bloody-mindedness. Notes by Trevor Johnston.

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