The sudden death of Joseph Stalin had led to the eruption of a complex and hawkish power struggle like few others, as multiple men of diverse dispositions, who were entangled in a delicate balancing act thus far in terms of fortifying their spheres without ever crossing lethal unwritten boundaries, moved in like vultures to fill in the vacuum. Adapted from French graphic novel La Mort de Staline, Armando Iannucci made the delicious, brutal, bombastic, trenchant, gleefully profane, stunningly prescient and magnificently crafted tar black political satire The Death of Stalin which jabbed at the absurdities surrounding personality cult, totalitarianism and Machiavellian maneuverings sparked by the dictator’s demise. Two camps immediately formed in this deadly game of one-upmanship – one is led by the sinister and menacing Beria (Simon Russell Beale), head of NKVD and Soviet secret police, who garners the support of Stalin’s meek puppet deputy Malenkov (Jeffrey Tambor), while the other is spearheaded by the wily and level-headed Khrushchev (Steve Buscemi), who consolidates the support of the shifty Old Bolshevik Vyacheslav Molotov (Michael Palin), who was in Stalin’s dreaded list of expendables, and the gregarious army head Zhukov (Jason Isaacs). The farcical film is filled with a series of hilarious gags and set-pieces laced with corrosive irony, whiplash wit and gallows humour, right from its opening sequence where a Mozart concerto is compelled to replay with a conductor in nightgown because Stalin (Adrian McLoughlin) asked for its recording after hearing it on the radio. Along with the delirious script cackling with mad unpredictability, it comprised of powerhouse turns by the ensemble cast, with the cherry reserved for Beale as the penguin-like Beria with the creepy smirk and oozing evil.
Director: Armando Iannucci
Genre: Black Comedy/Political Satire