The Roar

Review: The Death of Stalin

History lovers should seek out this dark comedy as its limited release makes The Death of Stalin hard to find but worth the watch

Last month a movie was released in only select theaters in the U.S. and the U.K. It is relatively unknown, and it has only made six million dollars at the box office, and it might just be the funniest movie that’s come out in the past five years. The Death of Stalin is a dark comedy that has managed to win awards, anger the Russians, and make a lot of history lovers laugh.

The Death of Stalin takes place in the Soviet Union in early 1953. Following Joseph Stalin’s sudden death, his parasitic cronies face off in a frantic power struggle to become the next soviet leader. Among the contenders are the dweeby deputy Georgy Malenkov, the wily politician Nikita Khrushchev, and the sadistic secret police chief Lavrenti Beria. On their race to power they are followed by Stalin’s two children, multiple more politicians, and a bombastic military general.

The British filmmaker Armando Iannucci, creator of the Emmy Award winning sitcom “Veep,” returns to the director’s chair to produce yet another political comedy, where the one-liners and witty jokes come almost as fast as the characters’ ambitions. Steve Buscemi delivers a great performance as Nikita Khrushchev in this wild, grim, and hilarious look at the Soviet Union.

Needless to say, The Death of Stalin probably isn’t for everyone and a comedy about the evil rush for power in the Soviet Union might sound strange. But don’t be fooled, if you like history and you like intellectual comedy, this is for you. You won’t find slapstick jokes, but instead snappy dialogue and brilliant punchlines.

The Death of Stalin is also an award winner as it won 2 British Academy of Film and Television Awards (BAFTA) for acting and production design and was nominated for six others including best picture.

It will be tough to find a theater that shows it though as it is only in select theaters in the US and United Kingdom. If you find yourself in Russia, you won’t be able find it at all, since it has been banned by the government for obvious reasons.


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