The Death of Stalin

In the age of Trump, it’s nice to see a political satire that isn’t 100% about our current political situation. It’s even better when the movie is so goddamned funny from start to finish.

In 1953, Stalin died. Quickly and unexpectedly. In a society where your death warrant could be signed for even thinking about obtaining any power, the matter of succession was very much up in the air. And all the major players are secretly vying for the top job.

Plots, subplots, betrayals, backstabs (sometimes literal), executions, The Death of Stalin packs a lot in to its run time. And almost all of it is hilarious. I don’t even want to describe any of it for fear of not doing it justice. Suffice it to say that it has a very British sense of humor. I.e. lingering on a joke for much longer than necessary, and making it that much funnier. Like when Stalin’s son tries to wrestle a gun away from a soldier and he fails in near silence as the rest of the cast watches him struggle. “Let that be a lesson to you,” he sneers, walking away, gunless.

Steve Buscemi, as always, is amazing. Just throwing that out there.

Ah! It’s so hard to talk about. Just see it. It is a little violent. When you remember that Stalin’s purges were very real and killed a lot of citizens (including most of the “good” doctors who might have helped Stalin) the laughter gets a little dry in your mouth.

A small knock against it, if you’re not paying attention, you might lose the thread. Between all the ‘kovs, ‘chevs, and ‘skys, you might forget who is talking about who. And for those concerned, Jeffrey Tambor’s part isn’t incredibly major if you don’t feel like supporting him.

3.5 out of 4 stars.


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