The Death of Stalin Reviews
What makes this film different that Iannucci's other projects however is how tar-black dark the subject matter is that it juxtaposes. Set during the end of Stalin's regime in the 1950s the film does not shy away from the violence of that era, nor does it make it any qualms about marrying it to outright absurdist comedy that veers into slapstick territory. Although jarring it does work more often than not, mainly thanks to uniformly excellent writing and performances across the board. And yes, the mostly British and American cast here play real-life Russians but to Iannucci's credit he doesn't even have them attempt any accents. Again, it's jarring until it becomes hilarious.
As with all things political this will certainly not be for everyone and may even outright offend many, especially given the obvious modern parallels to Putin's Russia and its relationship with the United States. However, if you're in the mood for some intense black comedy to get you through the horror show that is our current geo-political climate then you certainly came to the right place. And if you haven't watched Veep yet go treat yourself dammit!
These are the questions that echo unavoidably in the mind long after the credits of The Death Of Stalin roll. Directed and written by Armando Iannucci, the British mind behind some of the best television satire over the last few years (most notably The Thick Of It and Veep), this film sees him bringing his observational, fly on the wall style of film-making to historical events as we observe the merciless behind the scenes jockeying for power in the wake of Satlin's death. The cast is a vast array of comic talent, and they're at their very best; Iannucci's style demands a lot of his actors, and they all rise to the challenge admirably. They wring every last moment of physical and verbal humour out of the script - make no mistake, you will laugh a lot during this film.
But the appropriateness questions won't go away, These are events around which a lot of people died; and these are people who didn't care who suffered in the rush to power. Iannucci's thinking is in the deepest original satirical traditions - mock the devil, and he has no power left. It's also true that most of the darkness that is in the film is played straight; a counterpoint to the absurdity of surrounding events.
It would be too simplistic, though, to suggest that this film doesn't have serious things to say, Most intelligent comedy has a lot to say - and Iannucci is nothing if not intelligent. The moment that's portrayed as leading to Stalin's death from a stroke is his mocking shock at a note smuggled to him, from the relative of a victim of one of his purges, promising revenge and 'praying for his death'. Iannucci wants to be on the side of the angels here, showing the suffering as getting some measure of justice.
My own inclination has always been to say that there's nothing about which, in theory at least, a joke can't or shouldn't be made. What matters is context, content and intention. Here Iannucci seems to be satirising the amoral political power-grabs of people who care little for the consequences - a truth which is unavoidable in many a Westernised democracy in these days, the same Western democracies which have often been so quick to take the moral high ground over the Russian systems. For me this is a clever, funny, skilful film that only suffers slightly from a running time on the generous side. It put in me mind of writers like Aaron Sorkin, who slip moments of physical and wordplay comedy in to serious political situations; life is rarely all tragic or all comic. I told jokes in my eulogy at my father's funeral; the very best funerals in my professional experience of taking many of them, allow time for laughter as well as tears. But Iannucci's comedy is an acquired taste, and some won't be able to or want to stomach it. And that's fine; but if your tastes in comedy run a bit darker, then you'll find much to enjoy in this skilful and deft film.
I can not believe that Steve Buscemi, such a great actor, actually stepped into this big stinky pile of a horse shit.
This miscarriage, boring and dumb thing, wasted 20 minutes of my life and about 150MB of my internet traffic.
Stay away from this kind of garbage... things... (still can't call it a movie...)