The Death of Stalin
In Cinemas Now
A comedy of a terrors.
Blistering satire from Veep creator Armando Iannucci chronicling the aftermath of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin's death in 1953. Stars Steve Buscemi, Jeffrey Tambor and Olga Kurylenko.
When tyrannical dictator Joseph Stalin drops dead, his parasitic cronies square off in a frantic power struggle to be the next Soviet leader. Among the contenders are the dweeby Georgy Malenkov (Tambor), the wily Nikita Khrushchev (Buscemi), and the sadistic secret police chief Lavrentiy Beria (Simon Russell Beale, Into the Woods). But as they bumble, brawl, and backstab their way to the top, just who is running the government?
- Bay Of Plenty
- Hawke's Bay
- Nelson-Tasman Bay
- Taupo-Central Plateau
- West Coast
- Armando Iannucci(TV's 'Veep', 'In The Loop', TV's 'I'm Alan Partridge')
Rating: R16 Violence, sexual references & offensive language
The inclusion of Michael Palin in Armando Iannucci's film brings to mind the terrifying character the Monty Python legend played in Brazil, Terry Gilliam’s wonderful 1980s satire of Orwellian angst and banality of evil fuckery.
The ‘sit’ for this ‘com’ flows from the death of Mr Stalin in 1953, possibly the most feared man of all time, infamous for his mammoth body count and his daily habit of drawing up lists of people to be shot or sent to the gulag.
Iannucci has taken the template he honed to perfection in his political satires The Thick of It, In The Loop and Veep and applied it here to ‘real’ history. There’s also more than a touch of his other co-pro, Alan Partridge, though the horror is on a slightly grander scale.
Historically speaking, you might say the dossier has been sexed up but I totally wallowed in the thing like a pig in muck, all the way from the weaponized language to the Weekend at Bernie's dead body LOLs.
The climate of fear that hangs in every scene is a ripe setting for a truly killer cast, Steve Buscemi at his best as Khrushchev, Jeffrey Tambor as the simpering Malenkov, Palin as Molotov, and Jason Isaacs who plays the shit out of General Zhukov, a belligerent bon vivant of epic proportions. Most terrifying of all is theatre actor Simon Russell Beale as Lavrentiy Beria.
It’s mostly a sausage sizzle save for the brilliant Andrea Riseborough as Stalin’s brittle daughter and Olga Kurylenko as pianist Maria Yudina.
Total Film (UK)
The Guardian (UK)
Stuff.co.nz (James Croot)
NZ Herald (Toby Woollaston)
My concern going into this film was that it would not pay due respect to the millions of people killed under Stalin's watch. However the film cleverly uses that absolute lack of respect for life as one of it's comedic devices, often to excellent effect. I found myself flipping from laughter to grimace. Lovers of Soviet history and Steve Buscemi should enjoy this.
Saying you saw this makes you sound smart!
The Death of Stalin sounds like a heavyweight arthouse number but the inspired casting, insane gags-per-minute count and straightforward storytelling mean it delivers a very enjoyable and easy to watch film. I can now talk with a little more knowledge of the events that immediately followed the death of Stalin!
Very very funny
Had a bloody great time watching this!
Incredible blend of comedy and tragedy
I loved the film, which expertly mixes spot-on humour with some incredibly grim situations. An odd-ball gem.
BEST LAUGH IN YEARS
Laughed from beginning to end. Great cast.
Great casting , a clever script and great one-liners make for an entertaining trip to the cinema. Recommended.
The Death of Historical Accuracy
Iannucci is proving once again that he is a modern writing auteur in than in the first few lines you can tell it's his dialogue. The films direction is slick and the characters interactions remain fresh and hilarious throughout the runtime and it doesn't bother to honour the actual events by having accurate accents etc. but that just makes it all the more funny.
An outstanding cast do a fantastic job of presenting the characters as a mix of monster and human. Some very dark material with moments of pure comedy makes this movie a must-see.
Iannucci strikes again
Synopsis: When the beloved leader of a backwater nation passes away, his loyal friends put their own interests aside and work together to honour his memory and install the most capable candidate to replace him.
Review: Armando Iannucci is a genius. His writing is sharp, witty and insightful, and THE DEATH OF STALIN is no exception. The film skilfully plays up the ridiculous nature of Stalin’s succession (with artistic licence, sure), mining it for a lot of laughs, and balances that with the fear & brutality of his regime. While you are still LOL-ing your face off over one scene the next will bring you crashing back into the bleak reality of Stalin’s Soviet Union – be it bloody purges, freezing gulags or sexual predation. Is it jarring? At times, yes. Does it work despite this? Absolutely. The darkness of the truth is there but is never lingered on for too long. The next joke, the next witty crack is only moments away, pulling you out of what could become a slightly depressive narrative. The acting is superb across the board, with only Rupert Friend as Stalin’s alcoholic son being a slight mis-fire for me.
Given the direction Russia is heading under its current dictatorial leadership this film is desperately needed. If only it hadn’t been banned in the country that needs to see it most…
This was the funniest movie I've seen in years- certainly since In The Loop. Apologies to the person in front of me who I spat water over at one point. The cast are superb and the comedy and pathos are deftly balanced. So many great lines that i will be going to see it again soon.