A historical drama that illustrates Russian author Leo Tolstoy's struggle to balance fame and wealth with his commitment to a life devoid of material things. [imdb]
Nominated for 2 Oscars:
Best Actress: Helen Mirren
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer
I had few expectations about this film and for me it didn't shine or surprise me in any way. It's an empty film and I hardly enjoyed the presence of some of the actors. To start with the best: Christopher Plummer gives a very good, warm, believable performance. That scene in the forest is truly remarkable and it really is an Oscar worthy performance.
Dame Helen is ok, but nothing more for me, because I couldn't connect to her character and the screenplay doesn't do her much justice, except setting some traps of broken dishes and throwing herself into the pond. But even mediocre Helen Mirren is better then others' best. As much as I love Atonement, it's not because of James McAvoy (but it is his best performace) and I must admit I find him distracting in a film. He has the leading role here and... well... I'm subjective in the sense that his face and screen persona tell me nothing. It almost irritates me seeing him in this film, especially in combination with another actor I respect but who annoys the sh*t out of me: Paul Giamatti.
The screenplay is mediocre, trying to balance between something artsy for a chosen audience and regular ass drama with no true direction or enjoyable plot. I didn't care about the characters, just about Christopher Plummer. Even so, it's suprising that Oscar voters actually saw this film, with no release date back then and everything...
My rating for the film: 4/10. For someone not encounting issues with McAvoy and Giamatti, it's probably a 6-7.