THE DEATH OF STALIN

Cert 15 107mins Stars 5

Make sure you pay your respects to the funniest film of 2017, as Monty Python meets TV’s The Thick of It in this outrageous and brilliant historical satirical farce.

Written and directed by the wickedly talented Armando Iannucci, it’s a fiercely sharp attack on the self-serving scheming and idiocy of the ruling classes.

With modern politics being what they are, it’s telling the scriptwriters has to go back to the genocidal purges of Stalinist Russia to find politicians more grasping and incompetent.

And Iannucci gleefully gives both barrels to his familiar targets of bureaucracy, self serving cowardice, on–the–hoof policy and their murderous consequences.

In 1953 the Soviet hierarchy are in panic as Stalin lies dying. To a man they are rapists, murderers and thieves and put their interests far ahead of those of the people.

When his weak-willed deputy assumes control, a power struggle erupts between the chief of security and the head of the Communist Party in Moscow.

Simon Russell Beale and Steve Buscemi are on inspired form as Beria and Khrushchev.

Ex-Python Michael Palin hasn’t been this funny since A Fish Called Wanda, and the script offers choice scenes to every member of the impressive cast.

Andrea Riseborough and Rupert Friend are deranged, spoilt and drunk as Stalin’s adult offspring. The Fast Show’s Paul Whitehouse sidles about offering a snide commentary and best of the lot, Jason Isaacs plays the head of the Red Army as a northern hard case.

It’s a sensible choice to play the Russians in their own accents as it helps differentiate the characters and emphasises the class divisions in Russian society.  Buscemi’s US voice gives Kruschev more than a hint of Hollywood gangster.

While not quite epic, excellent location work gives the film a suitably grand gloss.

Terrifying, timely, hilarious and all too believable, The Death of Stalin proves the death of satire has been greatly exaggerated.

 

 

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