The Death of Stalin (2017)

  • Gist: Witty, biting satirical comedy about the actions of the Soviet “leadership” upon the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953.
  • Script: Smart, quick, hilarious machinegun of irony; cliche-free; one of the very best scripts I have heard in a movie, ever.
  • Acting: WOW! A cabal of proven actors play off each other brilliantly, fueled by the incredible script. Simon Russel Beale deserves a medal and a statue.
  • Historicity: Not literally what happened, but might as well be; true in essence; the real history was less realistic. The more a tyrant swells his power, the bigger the hole left when he’s on the floor soaked in his own fluids.
  • Things that shouldn’t work: All of them! Nothing about this movie should work, not the premise nor the casting nor the tone, but they play like a symphony orchestra.
  • Content: Only satire can present torture, murder, terror, and exploitation so that viewers somehow have fun without being lied to.
  • Jason Isaacs: One of my favorite current actors playing one of my favorite historical generals.
  • Steve Buscemi: The biggest (littlest?) thing that shouldn’t work, but his Nikita Khrushchev is perfect from beginning to end.
  • Source material: Nothing hacks like French political comics, nothing slashes like British satire, no one deserves to be double-teamed by them more than Joseph Stalin.
  • Putin: Russia’s government has banned this movie, a move so delightfully fitting it strains belief.

Conclusion: Not everyone likes satire, not everyone can stand British humor, but this movie is beautifully brilliant.