Directed by Armando Iannucci, ‘The Death Of Stalin’ is a British dark comedy that satirizes the chaos that ensued following the death of Soviet Union despot Joseph Stalin.
After receiving a harsh note from pianist Maria Yudina (Olga Kurylenko), Soviet Union Premier Joseph Stalin (Adrian McLoughlin) reads it and has a cerebral hemorrhage and dies. As deputy, Georgy Malenkov (Jeffrey Tambor) becomes the acting leader, but state security minister Lavrentiy Beria (Simon Russell Beale) is scheming to take over by releasing prisoners, sending the army away, and trying to ingratiate himself to Stalin’s daughter Svetlana (Andrea Riseborough) and son Vasily (Rupert Friend). However, as the funeral approaches, Secretary Nikita Khrushchev (Steve Buscemi) works with Field Marshall Georgy Zhukov (Jason Isaacs) to plan a coup to secure his position of power in the power and the Soviet Union.
Those who know me, know that I am a harsh critic of European cinema, but I have to be honest, this movie had me laughing all the way. The filmmakers had a tight rope to balance. Too much lighthearted comedy and it seems like you are downplaying the terror of the Soviet leaders, but too much violence and gore drops the humor. However, this film struck a perfect balance. It shows the horrors of the Soviets, but also shows the ridiculousness of their actions and mocking the state of chaos they found themselves in when their icon dies.
It also has some incredible performances. Beale and Buscemi were the highlights of the film. Their roles as competing successors to Stalin made for both serious moments and for some comedic ones. Likewise, Tambor is excellent as the troubled successor to such a vicious giant. His spinelessness and naivete make for lots of laughs.
I also want to praise Kurylenko for her portrayal of Maria Yudina. She was an incredibly talented piano player who won several awards. She was also incredibly religious in a world that punished religious further, something touched on in the film. While her role was smaller than a lot of the other characters, it has a great impact on the film.
Bottom line, The Death Of Stalin is a hilarious satire of the tyranny of the Soviet Union by mocking the key players who were only after power and did not genuinely care about Russia or its people. It was a risky move, but one that paid off.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Strong foul language, Bloody violence, Sexual innuendo, Terror
FAVORITE QUOTE: Don’t worry, nobody’s gonna get killed, I promise you. This is just a musical emergency!
Check out the trailer below:
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