Across the past couple decades, Armando Iannucci has repeatedly shown himself to be one of the most important voices working in comedy. Whether we are discussing his hand in the creation of Alan Partridge or his blatantly political work in The Thick of It and Veep, Iannucci has shown that he has his hand on the comedic pulse of whatever age he may be in. Now, he’s decided to take on a new experiment: a period piece with very real modern day implications. That film is The Death of Stalin, and it is very much a success. In fact, it was one of the best films I saw last year.
Iannucci’s latest film tells the story of the struggle for power that resulted from the black hole left by Joseph Stalin’s sudden death. This struggle for power includes, among others, the brilliant talent of Steve Buscemi, Jeffrey Tambor and Michael Palin, along with the external talents of the likes of Andrea Riseborough, Olga Kurylenko and a particularly hilarious, disjointed performance from Rupert Friend as Joseph Stalin’s son. This is a film where even bit parts get to shine: one of the best scenes in the whole film appears at the very beginning and almost allows Paddy Considine to steal the whole show.
So, what can you expect to find in this film? The usual, when it comes to Iannucci: sharp wit, brilliant snappy dialogue, wonderful angry performances and, perhaps most importantly, the ability to go from hilarity to tragedy to somewhere in between at the drop of a pin. Never before has the death of a dictator and the eventual reestablishment of a political system through the use of violence and brute force been so unbelievably funny.
The Death of Stalin is the rare film that can equally satisfy the viewers of the history channel and the comedy network.
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Shahbaz Khayambashi: @Shakhayam