Movie: The Death of Stalin (2017)

Posted 10 August, 2018 by Lianne in Entertainment / 0 Comments

Follows the Soviet dictator’s last days and depicts the chaos of the regime after his death.

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I love The Thick of It and In the Loop (review) so when I found out that Armando Iannucci made a movie about Soviet Russia–and you know me, I studied Soviet Russian history and all–I just had to watch it.

What can I say about this movie? Brilliant. Iannucci captures that absurdity and the horror of the Soviet regime and Stalin’s tyranny with such a briliant political lens. Everything down to the way that orders are read and interpreted, the political macinations on how to curry favour, the gradual consolidations of power, the facade of the unanimous decisions of the Committee…It’s all captured here in this film. The plot itself is just as timely now as it was at the time that it unfolded, that when a tyrant dies there is a power vacuum, and despite of the Soviet ideologies that they turn to, the members of the committee will do anything to secure their power and come out on top. And again some of it may sound eerily familiar as some of the same elements can be heard these days, like replace “False narrative” with “Fake news.” The rewriting of the narrative as events unfold, and especially in the post-credits and watching how the Party would erase certain individuals from photos and official documents, were all well-shown on-screen.

The actors were brilliant here, and it is quite the all-star cast when you look at the line-up. I’m glad that they were allowed to keep their accents as opposed to pulling a Russian accent, makes everything even more absurd. Jason Issacs for me was a hoot, I thought he was hilarious and the macho war hero Zhukov (“I fucked Germany, I think I can take a flesh lump in a fucking waistcoat” is perhaps my favourite line in the movie, if only because of his delivery). Simon Russell Beale, who is brilliant in theatre and Shakespearean plays, was eerie and menacing as Beria, and of course Steve Buscemi was amazing as Khruschev. I could go on and on about every member of the cast and how fantastic they were regardless of how much screen time they got, but suffice to say they were quite the highlight of the film.

I don’t know what else to really say about this movie. It’s definitely a movie to check out for yourself, you don’t need to know too much of the history of the period to really enjoy it (although in my case I make it in a game as to what’s accurate or not). I would actually say that this is a tamer outing on Iannucci’s part–if you want to see him at his most scathing brilliance, watch The Thick of It and Peter Capaldi’s Malcolm Tucker there–but overall I highly recommend The Death of Stalin if you’re into political satire and British comedy.

Rating: ★★★★★

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