Helen Mirren is set to star opposite Christopher Plummer in The Last Station, a film based on the last year of novelist Leo Tolstoy's long life, as well as his turbulent marriage. Mirren will play his wife Sofia.
These are fantastic actors and will no doubt be riveting to watch, and who can better portray no fewer than a dozen thoughts an emotions with a single, heart-breaking look than Helen Mirren? But the last years of the Tolstoy union could probably be generously described as...wretchedly miserable. Though their early years were good, Sofia grew to strongly oppose her husband's ideas and practices. Tolstoy was eventually felled by cold in November of 1910, so I'm picturing lots of bleak landscapes, hauntingly spare music, a frigidity in the air you can actually feel coming off the screen, and bitter fighting between the couple until old Leo finally gasps his last, shuddering breath inside some random stationmaster's house.
In other words: What a perfect remedy to all the movies that try so hard to make you feel good by showing you how happy and triumphant other people are! Forget the Top 40 soundtracks, the cool young stars who look like they just stepped out of a CosmoGirl! cover shoot, the unrelenting product tie-in blitz that make you covet the things that made the stars so happy. (Movie theatres may hand out antidepressants with every purchase of a large popcorn, but that'd be it as far as tie-ins. No car sweepstakes here.) No, if you feel good after walking out of the theatre here, it'll be because you're going home to a toasty warm bedroom and are relieved to know you're unlikely to freeze to death in your sleep that night.
I'll probably be first in line.
This week, a romance starring Edward Cullen and Claire Littleton goes up against a rom-com starring the Sorceror's Apprentice and the large-breasted nanny from Sex and the City 2. Who will win? Literally everyone involved.