Jenn Rohm Reviews "The Death of Stalin"
“The Death of Stalin” is the new movie directed by Armando Iannucci (VEEP). Co-written by the director along with David Schneider, Ian Martin, Peter Fellows, Fabien Nury and Thierry Robin and based on a French graphic novel, it is not surprising that the script never seems to be sure if it is a straight comedy, dark comedy, political satire, or slapstick. With this many cooks in the broth, it is full of disappointing moments that should have been funny but fell flat and were as tasteless as daily gruel.
Loosely based on historical events, it chronicles the power struggle by Stalin’s court (The Central Committee) upon his passing. Made up of Gregory Malenkov (Jeffrey Tambor), Lavrenti Beria (Simon Russell Beale), Nikita Khrushchev (Steve Buscemi), and Vyacheslav Molotov (Michael Palin), none of the actors attempt to change their natural accent (a conscious decision made by the director to not distract them when improvising), I constantly had the feel of watching a Monty Python skit. The delivery by the cast is strong, they just needed better material to work with. It should be noted that this is a fictional film and not a documentary, so feel free to help out the people whom view this movie and think it is the true story. This is not a genre I typically enjoy, and there were moments that I felt like I was on the outside looking in while portions of the audience were laughing. Other important pieces to this film such as costuming, props, music, lighting, and scenery were well done and kept me watching.
In closing, here are some things to consider prior to choosing to spend your money. The film does show some of the more horrific things that were happening at the time, such as taking people from their home in the night, shootings, beatings, implications of rape, dead bodies, etc. There is also political satire and moments of being a highbrow film. If you are OK with those things, you may enjoy this movie, but I did not care for it.