The Death of Stalin ★★★★

The Death of Stalin

TIFF 2017 film #4
Reason for pick - director Armando Iannucci - In the Loop

At the Q&A after the screening, director Armando Iannucci commented that after his stint with VEEP, he wanted to get away from American Politics, and thus chose a historical project about a psychopathic, narcissistic, leader of a world power.

From the first scene on, Iannucci whollops the audience with non-stop comedic absurdities, kinda like a cross between early Aki Kaurismaki and the Zucker Brothers of Airplaine! fame. It helps that the scripts rat-a-tat first act is is executed by some of the best ensamble absurdist comedic performances I’ve ever seen in film. Steve Buscemi as Khrushchev? How can that not be comic gold?

If The Death of Stalin has a flaw, it’s that it’s too fast out of the gate. You simply can’t keep up that kind of pace indefinitely, and as the stretch between comic beats increase, in order to flesh out the political inside fighting of the historically accurate story, it’s energy flags, which is all the more noticeable because of the frantic first act.

It quickly gets back on it’s feet in the third, though, as Iannucci pirouettes to the dark and grisly aspects of the tale, but still punctuates with even deeper more sardonic comedic jabs, especially the final frame.

A completely hilarious and enjoyable ride.

I just hope in a few years, when the world is sane again, Armando Iannucci will again turn his gaze back to American Politics … hmm, who to cast?

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