Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer), having rejected his title and embraced an ascetic lifestyle, finds himself increasingly at odds with his wife Sofya (Helen Mirren). As his devoted disciple Vladimir Chertkov (Paul Giamatti) urges him to sign a new will leaving the rights to his work to the Russian people rather than his family, the conflict between husband and wife grows to breaking point. The whole affair is witnessed by Tolstoy's new secretary, Valentin Bulgakov (James McAvoy), whose burgeoning love for the beautiful and feisty Masha (Kerry Condon) is set against the waning love of Tolstoy and Sofya.
This is the story of the last months of the life of Leo Tolstoy (Plummer) and what would become of his copyrights and wealth when he dies. Wife (Helen Mirron) needs the money to support her after his death, but Chertkov (Giamatti) wants him to leave everything to the Russian people. Between the two is his assistant Valentin (McAvoy) who medaites between the parties and trys to understand what Tolstoy really wants. It's an interesting historical record of this strange man and the way he was idolised during his life. The cast are all excellent, especially Plummer, Mirren and Giamatti but the film is quite slow, and with no set pieces as such (as you would expect in this type of film) it does drag on slightly. Having said that, the film is very interesting and well made and has some quite emotional scenes, especially at the end. Recommended for fans of period dramas or anyone interested in Russian history.