The Death of Stalin

The style of satire is nearly nearly extinct thus far in the 2010s, at least in terms of film. While they might be short in recent supply, when executed well, the art they are criticizing can provide plenty of laughs as well as commentary on the troupes the topic is known for. Some of the recent success within that genre include This is the End, 22 Jump Street, The Cabin in the Woods, Get Out, Hot Fuzz, and Team America: World Police. This brings us here to The Death of Statlin and it's another special case where I have heard good things about the movie but haven't seen any of the marketing for it. Among the surge of upcoming blockbusters, sometimes I could use a laugh to come the nerves after something action-packed or terrifying. This has been out in theaters for more than a month and has received a positive critical reception. So after watching John Krasinskis nightmares unfold in A Quiet Place, it felt like the right opportunity to find some humor/satire surrounding the events being told and I left the theater enjoying the bumbling nature it provided.

Plot: The story depicts the Soviet power struggles following the death of Joseph Stalin. It covers how it transpired during the funeral preparations as two figures of a committee are constantly trying to gain favor in order to reign control. These antics happen to include backstabbing one another, finding scapegoats to cover their tracks, and making up fake promises to their own benefit. The manner in how these people bumble around feels rather similar to something you might expect from Monty Python in how it makes fun of the subject matter at hand. There are moments where they don't shy away from the dark material during that period at the area. However, for as strong as most of the writing is, there are times where it can drag a little bit. The humor might also rely on some familiarity with the political nature during that time (but it doesn't get in the way that much, could be a small gripe depending on yourself).

Characters: The people to focus on are Nikita Krushchev (Steve Buscemi) and Lavrentiy Beria (Simon Russel Beale). Something to keep in mind between these two officials is how despicable they can be in their tactics and strategies. Krushchev is the Moscow Party Head whose competition with Beria pushes him to buffoonery in his venture to takeover Stalin's vacant position. Steve gives a great performance in this role as someone who's slightly less corrupt than his competitor (though not by much) but won't be afraid to swindle his way to the top. Beria is the NKVD head whose aggressive nature make him a potent threat to Krushchev for power. Simon gives a great portrayal in displaying how slimy greedy he can be (making him despicably likable), in addition to sharing great scenes with the cast. Honorable mentions go to Vasily Stalin (Rupert Friend) and Georgy Malenkov (Jeffrey Tambor) for the formers tendencies to be entertaining and crazy while the latter is such a delight in how incompetent and naive he's portrayed.

Overall Consensus: The Death of Stalin satirizes its political subject matter well with strong dark humor, great cast performances, and a solid script. ⭑⭑⭑⭑🍿🎟 Runtime: 1 hour 47 minutes R

Reasons to watch it: You like any of the aforementioned actors. You enjoy political satires that don't use actors of the correct background for their respective roles. You don't mind historical inaccuracies. You enjoy watching people bumble around like buffoons in comedies.

Reasons to avoid it: You dislike any of the aforementioned actors. You dislike films that take place in the Soviet Union. You dislike historical figures being depicted as dunderheads.

Coming up next: April Anticipation is going solid with the chain of good films so far with The Death of Stalin bringing in some great laughs. But now that's going to shift back to the blockbusters as we return to the release weekend of another Dwayne Johnson action flick. Will this adaptation of an old video game continue the streak we're on so far? Tune in next time as Screening Spectacles will be answering this with the review of a movie was screened in advance earlier this week, Rampage!!!


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