The Death of Stalin - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Death of Stalin Reviews

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January 19, 2019
Laugh out loud funny farce... although believable.
January 13, 2019
My and the Wife are digging Arnando Iannucci's latest film, 'The Death of Stalin' (although as usual our scores differ). I feel like you catch several jokes watching a second time, which I'm guilty of.

You can't help but be impressed with Steve Buscemi who is as entertaining and funny here as ever. I love the choice of letting the actors speak in not only their native tongue, but also with their accents no matter what country they come from. This is really well made and entertaining and the kind of film that should stand up over time. Husband 8.0/Wife 7.0; Average Final Score: 7.5
½ January 11, 2019
Odd and Uncomfortable and not in the good way. This movie was hard to watch. Some people had British accents, some had English. Critics are calling this a black comedy. It was not funny, interesting or well done whatsoever. A big waste of time.
½ January 8, 2019
Armando Iannucci's trademark sharp and satirical dialogues along hilarious situations in which its characters are put on make The Death of Stalin a fine film, even if the audience have to put up with liberal ideology disguised as wit.
January 8, 2019
This is easily the best film of the year so far. It's intelligent satire is hilarious, and so on point I can't help but think of freedom of speech issues in a similar American White House, where although not killed on spot, being fired on spot is par for course. This film also works on other fronts, building anxiety and suspense as we grow closer and closer to the final and deadly outcome of Stalin's death. The fact that this film is based entirely on a true story and still makes you laugh despite it's dark tone is a remarkable feat, held previously only by Charlie Chaplin in the Great Dictator.

Of course without the work of Steve Buscemi and Jeffrey Tambor this film might not of held as much weight and makes just as much a point of free speech in current American society where there is no longer equal speech for everyone in a post me too era. Jeffrey Tambor could have been completely CGI replaced Spacey style as if it were 1940's Fascism. The fact that he is still in the movie and this didn't happen, really packs in a metaphor that I doubt few will see, and even fewer will realize that blacklisting in modern filmmaking can be just as fascist.
½ January 3, 2019
Excellent black comedy that is as funny as hell, that is, if you weren't one of the people involved or related to them. A great cast giving outstanding performances make this a film that is more than worth your time.
½ January 3, 2019
Other than Russia banning this movie, I wasn't sure what to think when going in. The trailer looked mildly entertaining at best... but not something one would care about much.

It's really the historical elements that tie you over (especially if you have a deep interest in Russian history).

This felt historically accurate, because the era of Stalin was one of the darkest, most psychotic/psychopathic periods in Russian history.

Further deep research into the events revealed that these events actually did take place, in one way or another.

Which is why this movie is a "dark" comedy.

But was it funny? Not really.

4.5/5
½ January 1, 2019
I actually really liked this for some reason. Great cast, and a true story of history.
½ December 31, 2018
probably the best movie of 2018
December 30, 2018
One of the best films of 2018, it shows in a sarcastic and terribly funny way an unexplored period of the Cold War, making a fine satire to the desire for power and to Soviet communism itself.
December 30, 2018
It was ok- not as good as the reviews but worth watching. Somewhat historical so can learn a thing or two about history
December 28, 2018
A comedy about Stalin's death? Yes and it's really funny.
December 26, 2018
A hilarious and well made film. A loosely insightful view in the times and chaos in the USSR after Stalin. I can easily see why this movie was banned in Russia and the surrounding areas. Great acting by the whole cast.
Super Reviewer
December 22, 2018
I've always felt, and feel that this is something that most of you know or, maybe, should know, that you retain information better if you're having fun or if you're being entertained. This is especially true when it refers to school topics such as history, math, english or whatever other subject you may be covering. I know some of you, particularly those from an older generation, might say that learning or education isn't about having fun, it's about, well, learning, of course. And there's some truth to that in that you should also learn. But, let's just say, that your teacher is like Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, where his monotone and boring form of talking means that he's, essentially, a substitute for Ambien to the kids taking his classes. Nobody is gonna learn anything from a teacher like that. Same thing applies to a teacher with no passion for what they do. None of that resonates with kids or, really, any student of any age for that matter. For example, take this movie, as an example, and imagine this as a class taught by Ben Stein. Now, let's take out Ben Stein out of the equation and, say, we put George Carlin in his place or whomever your favorite comic is. It's not just a stand-up routine, you're actually also learning something about the Soviet Union in the aftermath of Stalin's death. You tell me which class you're gonna remember more??? This brings us to this little flick right here. And, of course, I'm not here to suggest that this movie is entirely 100% historically accurate, because it's not. To criticize the movie for not being historically accurate, mostly historians, I feel, is kind of missing the point of the movie. Armando Iannucci isn't Kenneth Branagh, who would probably go nuts if he was to write and direct this movie, making a four-hour comprehensive epic that would be as close to the real thing as humanly possible. Armando Iannucci is a satirist, well-known for his political satires The Thick Of It (which was extended to an excellent film called In The Loop), Veep and, obviously, this movie. He's taken a look at the immediate aftermath of Stalin's death, the instant political machinations by both Beria and Nikita in order to assert their vision for the Soviet Union's future by manipulating those around them, trying to gain as many people in the presidium in their favor in order to oust the other. It's completely and utterly fascinating to watch honestly. There's a sort of manic energy surrounding the events of the movie as, in many ways, and this clearly oversimplifies what happens, it's kind of a tug-of-war between Nikita and Beria and they're trying to pull as hard and as fast as they can to, basically, improve their position. Georgy Malenkov, Stalin's successor, really is kind of a patsy and he doesn't really run anything, Beria and Nikita are the men pulling the strings from behind the scenes, as it were, Georgy is just the figurehead that they have propped up at the moment to give the nation a sense of continuity during this transitional period in Soviet Union's history. Beria and Nikita both paint their intentions for those of the betterment of the country but, deep down, it's painfully clear that they want to lead the Soviet Union into a, supposedly, more prosperous period. That the Soviet Union stood for thirty more years after this should tell you THAT story. The film covers so much ground and, quite honestly, Soviet Union politics are not my forte, so I'm not even gonna bother going through every tiny little detail the film has to offer. Like I said, however, the film is, quite frankly, quite fucking great and the story it tells is so damn fascinating that it inspires you, if you didn't know about this chapter in history, to pick up a book detailing the consequences of Nikita and Beria's actions in the immediate aftermath of Stalin's death. I imagine that, while not necessarily 100% historically accurate, this movie captures the immediacy of the importance of what is to come next for the Soviet Union. And I imagine it also must capture how stressful it was to be either of these two men (Nikita and Beria) during this time, not knowing what their future would hold, whether they would even be alive at the end of that particular year. As entertaining as the movie is, and it is quite frankly a hilarious movie at times, I don't think it ever pretends that this was a wonderful time in history nor does it try to sugarcoat the horrible shit that happened in the aftermath. The death of 1500 civilians at the hand of the NKVD as a result of Nikita ordering the borders be opened, even if the NKVD were assigned by Beria. I think, in this film's context at least, Nikita knew very well what he was doing and he was using these civilians in order to, maybe, push Beria out the door. There's some really sobering scenes of people who might have helped Beria's cause being executed as if they were nothing and, to me, I think that's what most impacting about the movie, just the sheer amount of government oppression on display here. Doctors are killed, most of them off screen, just for being doctors and, supposedly, plotting against the Soviet Union (the evidence of this treason most likely having been fabricated). Even the climactic act itself, with the coup against Beria, him being subdued and giving a quick "trial" and promptly executed like he's nothing. Kind of sobering to watch honestly. As is to be expected with a film from someone like Armando Iannucci, the script is tremendous with biting satire. I don't wanna say the movie is a laugh riot from beginning to end, because it's not, but the comedy in the movie is tremendous. Vasily, Stalin's son, steals pretty much every scene he's in. That's not to say that the rest of the characters themselves aren't memorable, because they are, it's just that Vasily, a more ancillary character that's not really relevant to the narrative in any significant way, can be used as the "comic" relief. And that's saying something when every major character has great comedic moments. I think the movie invites you in with its comedy, but it hooks you with its tale of political machinations and excellent performances from every single member of the cast. Steve Buscemi gives his best performance in years (non-Boardwalk Empire). Simon Russell Beale is a tremendous villain. Jeffrey Tambor is a perfect patsy as Georgy Malenkov, as he tries to act like he's in control when, in reality, he's at the mercy of Nikita and/or Beria's manipulations. I single out these three because they really are at the head of the film's narrative and they drive it forward, but this might be the best cast I've seen in a comedy in fucking ages. That's how great they are. In many ways, this movie isn't exactly gonna be everybody's cup of tea, since I'm certain most casual fans aren't really gonna find much to like here, in spite of how great this movie is, but I found this to be a top-notch movie. Not only does it entertain you with a tremendous script and cast, but it also inspires you (while not necessarily being 100% historically accurate) to do some research on this subject and, hopefully, learn even more about it. I cannot complain about this movie in the slightest, this is a great movie (not just a great comedy) and I would easily recommend it if you know the type of political satire that you're getting into.
½ December 21, 2018
The performances are fantastic all around and the writing is consistently biting, making this both a great dark comedy and a skillful lampooning of authoritarianism.
December 19, 2018
one of the best movies of 2018
December 18, 2018
'The Death Of Stalin' is just as dark as it is funny. It's a black comedy that is certainly comparable with a film like 'In The Loop'. Certainly this won't be everyone's cup of tea however the casting is strong and the dialogue is occasionally quite memorable.
December 17, 2018
It's an unusual experiment for a film to treat the totalitarian days of the Soviet Union as broad comedy - and more unusual still because the details of the plot (if not the screenplay full of jokes) are drawn straight from the real facts of the historical record about bad actors, torture, murder. This satirical portrayal of a bunch of bumblers (the Central Committee) who need to manage the country after their leader has died - and who vie to determine its political direction and methods - was, inevitably, banned in Russia. It doesn't paint a pretty picture. But strangely, the slickness of the film and the deftness of the comedic actors and their witty repartee means that the brutality of the proceedings (implied and explicit) seems unreal - when in fact it all was horribly real. Even the decision to allow the actors to use their natural accents (a full range of British classes are represented plus Steve Buscemi and Jeffrey Tambor from America), which could have been a Brechtian device to lead us to view the characters and their actions from a more distanced critical perspective, doesn't quite have that intended effect (although perhaps there is a different goal; for example, portraying Stalin as the rural type from Georgia he was by using a cockney accent). At any rate, it is a pitch black comedy, very probably in completely bad taste, and without a clearly identifiable modern target (only a desire to recreate and satirize the chaos of the period).
½ December 16, 2018
funny but-- leaves you wanting more of a movie
December 15, 2018
Armando Iannucci finds an unlikely occasion for humor in the midst of Stalin's Great Terror. It's the absurdly thin and arbitrary line between success and state-sanctioned execution that confers the comedy, as characters desperately try to toe the line between truth and whatever false narratives are currently in fashion in order to keep their heads. At the time of Stalin's death, as the Soviet state hangs in limbo, the Great Terror looks more like the Great Confusion, where the remaining heads of Stalin's government wrangle with which truths are to become actual truths and which ones are to stay false, all while trying to one-up each other in a bid to gain power. Whoever can determine the new truth first wins. The loser dies an enemy of the state. Handled less expertly, this film could be a madcap mess, but the clarity of all the indecision taking place is helped along by perhaps the best ensemble cast of the entire year and Iannucci's management of that cast through deft timing and efficient blocking.
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