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26 Jun 2018

Home Video Review: 'The Death of Stalin' Is a Hilarious Comedy That Somehow Also Feels Historically Accurate

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A scene from Death of Stalin. A scene from Death of Stalin.

I missed The Death of Stalin in theaters. Shame, shame, shame on me: It’s one of this year’s funniest—and strangest—movies.

Director and co-writer Armando Iannucci puts together an incredible cast to tell the story of the last days of Stalin (Adrian McLoughlin), and the chaos that ensued when he died. Ingeniously, Iannucci opts to have his British and American cast members keep their regular accents, giving the movie a sort of crazy, Monty Python-like vibe (It reminded me of the Pythons talking with their British accents in Life of Brian.) Having Michael Palin in the cast as Vyacheslav Molotov certainly helps that vibe.

Steve Buscemi deserves to be a legitimate Oscar contender as Nikita Khrushchev, depicting the soon-to-be Soviet leader as a chest-bumping nut fond of dirty jokes and saying “fuck” a lot. It comes off as if Khrushchev is the son of Buscemi’s Boardwalk Empire character, Nucky Thompson, or the great grandad of Mr. Pink from Reservoir Dogs. With his performance, he’s doing what Buscemi usually does, and the effect is hilarious. The same goes for Jeffrey Tambor as Georgy Malenkov, depicted here basically as George Bluth on an insecure day.

Through all the farcical lunacy, Iannucci somehow manages to give his film a dark depth that feels, at times, quite historically accurate. It’s definitely one of the more unique movies you will see this year … or any year.

The Death of Stalin is available via online sources including iTunes and Amazon.com.

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