Christopher Plummer plays the aged Leo Tolstoy. Helen Mirren embodies his wife. Paul Giamatti is his disciple, Vladimir Chertkov. And James McAvoy is his secretary. Adapted from the 1990 historical novel by Middlebury College professor Jay Parini, The Last Station has award-season potential written all over it.
No release date has been set, but Parini says editing is complete, and an opening in late 2009 is likely. He was pleased with a recent London screening, and especially enjoyed the original score by a young Russian composer named Sergei Yevtushenko.
Parini has published an impressive roster of books, ranging from fiction to poetry to criticism to biography. He’s currently at work adapting three to the screen, he says. But The Last Station is the first to make it to celluloid, a lengthy process Parini recounts in the February 20 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education. (The late Anthony Quinn, a friend of Parini’s, originally wanted to play Tolstoy.) That makes The Last Station a well-documented project indeed: Tolstoy’s great-great-grandson cap-tured the shooting of the film in a doc for European television, Parini says. Look for it later this year . . .