The Death of Stalin 15

The Death of Stalin

Based on the graphic novel by Fabien Nury, writer/director Armando Iannucci (The Thick of It, In The Loop) is in his element with this acerbic send-up of the Soviet dictator and his band of scheming bootlicks who vie for power after his sudden demise.

The year is 1953. Joseph Stalin (Adrian McLoughlin) seems in sound condition (albeit paranoid), terrorising everyone, summarily killing off suspected dissenters, and generally keeping everyone on edge. That comes to an abrupt halt however when the dictator is found belly-up on the floor of his office following a stroke, leading to a series of hijinks plotting and jostling for power by a group of connivers who previously cowered under their boss. All of the top lackeys are in contention — timid Malenkov (Jeffrey Tambor), wiseguy Khrushchev (Steve Buscemi), bewildered Molotov (Michael Palin), thuggish Zhukov (Jason Isaacs), and depraved Beria (Simon Russell Beale), with Stalin's drunken son Vasily (Rupert Friend) and jaded daughter Svetlana (Andrea Riseborough) thrown in the volatile mix. And all of them moving with the clumsiness of aspirants not up to the job but desperate for it anyway.

A timely allegory about venal, unfit leaders and corrupt governance — it’s the kind of comedy that has become Iannucci's specialty. Don’t expect any faux Russian accents here though from the all English speaking cast, whose varying Cockney, Brooklyn, and Liverpudlian twangs make it all the more entertaining. Enjoy!