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  • Entertainment

MOVIE: Death of Stalin is a lively affair

Wednesday, 25th October, 2017 7:00pm
MOVIE: Death of Stalin is a lively affair

25 New Film Stalin.jpg

MOVIE: Death of Stalin is a lively affair

25 New Film Stalin.jpg

SPOILER alert. In case you didn’t know. Joseph Stalin is dead! Now with that piece of breaking news out of the way, is this new comedy about his death any good?

The movie is written and directed by Armando Iannucci, famous for creating the hit HBO series, ‘Veep’, and for his involvement back in the day with Steve Coogan’s most popular character, Alan Partridge. 

The story is based on, and adapted from a French graphic novel by Fabien Nury and Thierry Robins, and Nury is on board here as a co-writer. 

As you probably know, Stalin was dictator of the Soviet Union (now Russia) from the 1920s, ruling the socialist State with an iron fist until his death in 1953. 

Where’s the humour in that you may ask? Well, what the film chooses to focus on are the days immediately following Stalin’s death, and the comical scramble for power from those left behind. Those making a grab for the top spot include Steve Buscemi as Khrushchev, Jeffrey Tambor (‘Transparent’) as Malenkov, and Michael Palin as Molotov (he of the cocktail fame).

The film opens on Paddy Considine as a worried Russian radio broadcaster who gets a call from the great leader, looking for a recording of the musical performance that has just      finished. 

Of course, no recording was made. This scene not only sets up Stalin as someone to be feared, but also sets the tone for the humour to


Soon after, Smokin Joe meets his untimely end, and the battle to replace him begins. 

The movie works on multiple levels, serving not only as exercise for your laughing muscles, but also as a fascinating history lesson (apparently it’s broadly accurate). 

The actors make no attempt at phony Russian accents, which is not only amusing but refreshing, and this works particularly well with army general Zhukov (Jason Isaacs), in a show stealing performance. 

This is satire of political manoeuvrings that although historical, could be applied to many world leaders today. 

It’s laugh out loud funny, clever, and informative. We score it a highly entertaining, 4 out of 5 stars.

Paul O’Rourke


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