The Death of Stalin Review

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ARMANDO IANNUCCI, the mastermind behind The Thick of It, Alan Partridge and Veep returns to the big screen with this fantastic black-comedy.
Iannucci directs from a script written with David Schneider and Ian Martin taking inspiration from the graphic novel series by Fabien Nury and Thierry Robin. The story focuses on the events that take place after the death of Stalin in 1953.
With the talents of Jason Isaacs, Steve Buscemi, Paul Whitehouse, Michael Palin, Paddy Considine, Jeffrey Tambor, Simon Russell Beale, Rupert Friend, Andrea Riseborough and Olga Kurylenko, it’s hard to pick a stand out performer. They’re all fantastic in different ways. Jason Isaacs is tremendously funny as the no-nonsense leader of the Russian military. Simon Russell Beale is wonderfully deceitful and Michael Palin adds a Python-esque level of ridiculousness in one particularly hysterical meeting of Stalin’s cabinet. Steve Buscemi is awfully manipulative and Jeffrey Tambor is hilariously cowardly and vain. 
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The film is at its funniest when the farce of the political process is brought to the forefront. Iannucci’s brand of political satire courses through this film poking fun wherever it can and flippantly mocking Stalin’s regime. The king of the political satire manages to make the mundane and the terrible equally as farcical. From dealing with a piss-soaked body to deciding who organises the funeral to executing traitors, it’s all hilarious in this film. It’s a film that revels in the awfulness of its lead characters – a black comedy at its very finest.
The stakes are much higher here than in Iannucci’s previous work. Saying the wrong thing might make you the subject of a newspaper article in The Thick of It. In Stalin’s Soviet Union the punishment is death. This leads to some very funny moments as these characters squabble for their lives like children fighting over who gets to choose what goes on TV.  

★★★★

The Death of Stalin is Iannucci at his best. Hilarious, farcical and very dark, this is one of the comedies of the year. 


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