88 on Metacritic with 40 reviews. Two recent BAFTA nominations for Best British Film and Best Screenplay. Directed by Armando Iannucci and finally reaching US audiences wide starting this weekend.
Synopsis: Moscow, 1953: when tyrannical dictator Joseph Stalin drops dead, his parasitic cronies square off in a frantic power struggle to be the next Soviet leader. Among the contenders are the dweeby Georgy Malenkov (Jeffrey Tambor), the wily Nikita Khrushchev (Steve Buscemi), and the sadistic secret police chief Lavrentiy Beria (Simon Russell Beale). But as they bumble, brawl, and backstab their way to the top, just who is running the government?
Distributor: IFC Films
Starring: Adrian McLoughlin, Andrea Riseborough, Jason Isaacs, Jeffrey Tambor, Jonathan Aris, Justin Edwards, Michael Palin, Olga Kurylenko, Paddy Considine, Paul Ready, Richard Brake, Roger Ashton-Griffiths, Rupert Friend, Simon Russell Beale, Steve Buscemi, Sylvestra Le Touzel, Tom Brooke, Yulya Muhrygina
Director: Armando Iannucci
Genre(s): Biography, Drama, History, Comedy
Runtime: 107 min
It’s on the screen in France on April,4th, I’ll try to go as soon as I can but god I can”t wait !
Mixed bag overall. Very game, A-list cast of British and American talent, but the screenplay was all over the place as well as Iannucci’s direction. I think for a satiric story like this to really work, it has to be streamlined and dialed down some to make the satire more prescient. Power corrupts, and surely we know that from countless examples throughout history to the present political nightmare, but what else is there? Also very irksome personally is absolutely no one attempting Russian accents. It really was a BBC farce in the end, which is certainly enough of a draw for most people, but still. Despite this, MVPs were Simon Russell Beale in a sinister villain role as Baria, Steve Buscemi acting like he’s still in “The Sopranos” as Khrushchev, Rupert Friend as Stalin’s errant son Vasily, and Andrea Riseborough in one of the few substantial female roles as Stalin’s daughter Svetlana. Maybe the Oscars remember this in one of the Screenplay categories next year, but that’s about it, I think.
Armando Iannucci, the creator and talent behind the first seasons of Veep, left that show to return to films. The Death of Stalin is the result.
Veep was gut busting hilarity. The Death of Stalin is dry, clever wit.
I prefer laughing out loud.