The Death of Stalin (2018)
Critic Consensus: The Death of Stalin finds director/co-writer Arnando Iannucci in riotous form, bringing his scabrous political humor to bear on a chapter in history with painfully timely parallels.
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as Nikita Khrushchev
as Georgy Malenkov
as Lavrentiy Beria
as Comrade Andryev
as Vasily Stalin
as Georgy Zhukov
as Maria Yudina
as Vyacheslav Molotov
as Svetlana Stalin
as Anastas Mikoyan
as Lidiya Timashuk
as Spartak Sokolov
as Joseph Stalin
as Leonid Brezhnev
as Young Waitress
as Sweet Russian Girl
as Young Doctor
as Nicolai Bulganin
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Critic Reviews for The Death of Stalin
"The Death of Stalin" is a deep farce, but it is rooted in enough political reality that it hardly feels sensationalized. And given the current state of politics, it's as on-point as a breaking news alert.
The Death of Stalin is actually a lot like Veep, except with gulags and executions.
It's often raucously hilarious, neatly crafted, sometimes visually striking, packed with excellent performances and abrasively profane dialogue. Most significant of all, it's true.
Director and co-writer Armando Iannucci puts it all on black (comedy), betting that the vast discrepancy between great power and small souls will make you laugh at the absurdity of it all - or at least not scream in horror.
"The Death of Stalin" should please moviegoers who appreciate humor that's significantly more sophisticated than we've become accustomed to encountering on the big screen these days.
Audience Reviews for The Death of Stalin
BORE AND PEACE - My Review of THE DEATH OF STALIN (2 1/2 Stars) I'm a fan of Armando Iannucci's work. IN THE LOOP and VEEP contain some of the most razor sharp, savage dialogue I've ever heard. His attention to the cowardice of humankind and the terrible ways we often communicate with each other puts him a cut above the rest of the world's satirists. Consider then my relative disappointment with his latest project, THE DEATH OF STALIN. While bracingly funny at times and wonderfully acted by its entire, huge ensemble, the film wore out its welcome, and sometimes its coherence, around the halfway mark. Set in Moscow during the time of Stalin's death, the story explores the insane pile-up of power grabs by those who survived the despot. Not such an easy thing to do in the darkest time of the Soviet Regime, as this wacky comedy has an insanely large body count. Its opening act, and perhaps its best moments, centers around Andreyev, an Engineer (Paddy Considine in fine form) panicking when Stalin directly orders him to record a symphony he oversees. Problem is, the symphony has just ended, so Andreyev quickly rounds up people on the street, a conductor at home in his pajamas, and a hostile pianist (a strong Olga Kurylenko from QUANTUM OF SOLACE) who detests Stalin and refuses to play again. Through this sequence, we feel the fear everyone has of their leader and the brave faces they all put on in order to survive. Eventually, Stalin dies, although in true farcical fashion, it takes forever! The power vacuum left behind gets filled by his surviving cabinet members, all of whom would love to lead their country, despite lacking the moral compass to make something better out of the hell Stalin created. These potential leaders include Steve Buscemi as Nikita Khrushchev, Michael Palin, Jeffrey Tambor, a fantastic Simon Russell Beale as a head torturer for the KGB, Jason Isaacs, and the winning one-two punch of Andrea Riseborough and Rupert Friend as Stalin's daughter and son. The film notably eschews Russian accents for the most part, with each actor using their natural speaking voices, most hilariously resulting in Buscemi's Krushchev sounding like a disgruntled NYPD Officer. I also loved how in the background of the frame, we see people being shot, or rolling down stairs, while people carry on petty arguments in the foreground. This sounds amazing, no? And it is for a while. Like his other projects, Iannucci has a real gift for the minutiae of desperate people doing or saying anything they can to stay in the game, or in this case, stay alive. It's like VEEP with a longer running time and bloodshed. But after a while, I stopped caring as an aura of sameness crept into the viewing experience. I stopped trying to follow the convoluted story and occasionally smiled at a well-realized quip or two. THE DEATH OF STALIN is no disaster by any means. It's a fluffy farce which dares to place itself into a dark place in world history. It's got great nervous energy and more plotting and scheming than an episode of SURVIVOR. A shame, however, that it ultimately bored me.
It is hard to make improvisation work in comedy, and while In the Loop was quite hilarious, this film begins funny but slowly becomes awfully grim, adopting a strange, solemn tone (even in the music) that feels completely incompatible with the goofy humor that it is aiming at.
Not as funny as In The Loop but better than Veep. Some of his work with Nina Conti is very hilarious.as well. Iannucci has gift for satire the zanier the better. Who knew Steve Buscemi could pull off Nikita Khrushchev? Rupert Friend should have had more screen time. (3-25-18)
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