‘The Death Of Stalin’
Director: Armando Iannucci
Starring: Steve Buscemi, Simon Russell Beale
4.5 (Out of 5) Globes
Plot: On March 5, 1953, Joseph Stalin (Adrian Mcloughlin), the second leader of the Soviet Union, died at the age of 74.
His passing provoked bedlam behind the scenes, as Nikita Khrushchev (Steve Buscemi), Lavrentiy Beria (Simon Russell Beale), Georgy Malenkov (Jeffrey Tambor) and Vyacheslav Molotov (Michael Palin) were tasked with trying to organize his funeral, while simultaneously back-stabbing each other in an attempt to replace Stalin as the head of the Soviet Union.
Review: Thanks to his work on “The Day Today,” “I’m Alan Partridge,” “The Thick Of It,” “In The Loop,” and “Veep,” Armando Iannucci is rightfully regarded as one of the most biting and hysterical comedic voices of the modern era.
But with “The Death Of Stalin” the Scottish writer and director slightly adjusts his voice. Because rather than relying and focusing on the tour-de-force comedic presence of Christopher Morris, Alan Partridge, Malcolm Tucker or Selina Meyer, Iannucci instead spreads the comedic wealth, which helps to make the film a more riveting, charming, and enticing watch.
“The Death Of Stalin” had to be handled in such a way, though, as its plot is just so chaotic, relentless and suspenseful. It also feels like a depressingly timely parallel to the current state of western politics, as the members of the Soviet Committee try to back-stab and manipulate their way to the ultimate position of power with no care for the actual inhabitants of the country.
You don’t mind watching the farcical and distasteful antics of its characters, though, because Steve Buscemi, Simon Russell Beale, Michael Palin, Jeffrey Tambor and Jason Isaacs create a formidable and selfless comedic quintet, while Iannucci’s unyielding script and direction constantly stirs, twists and builds without ever overwhelming.
All of which combines to make “The Death Of Stalin” his best work as a writer and director yet, as well as one of the funniest and most entertaining films of the year.