Death of Stalin

“Have a long sleep, old man. I’ll take it from here.”

From team behind The Thick Of It comes a comedy-drama about Stalin, the man responsible for the deaths of at least 20 million people. Or, more specifically, a film about the behind-the-scenes chaos that occurred during his last days and the few subsequent days after his death. Whilst the topic may not seem like it has the makings of a quasi-comedy, from the opening scene it’s clear to see how and why it’s going to work.

The scheming, plotting and conspiring that actually occurred were beyond farcical and formulate the perfect material for some great set-pieces. The tour de force nature of the ensemble cast bring both the gags and the drama to life. Jason Isaacs as Georgy Zhukov is the MVP – stealing every scene he’s in with his gruff Northerner take on the head of the Russian army. As Stalin’s children, both Rupert Friend and Andrea Riseborough get some great moments of both comedy and more serious exchanges.

The trailer presents the film as a continuous farce of non-stop gags – something it really isn’t. The jokes are further spread out that might be anticipated and there’s a real dark edge throughout – neither of which should be surprising considering the subject matter. Death Of Stalin is a sly satire, a political horror with occurrences of raucous comedy, that offers a scathing assessment of governmental backstabbing and maneuvering.

A rather timely release all things being considered …

4 stars

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