THE DEATH OF STALIN – REVIEW – Veep Goes to the USSR.
The Death of Stalin is as black as Beluga caviar and as strong as vodka, as absurd as totalitarianism and yet much much funnier. Armando Iannucci brings together a hugely talented cast including Mr. Pink, Larry Sanders’ pal, the new Star Trek captain, one of the Fast Show fellas, a Monty Python and Simon Russell Beale as Beria. The latter is a famous Brit Shakespearean who has dedicated himself to the theater, at the cinema’s expense, it has to be said.
Following Stalin’s collapse the members of the Politburo, sharpen their knives and run about trying to make their own futures secure even as they dodge their comrades conspiracies and the purge to come. The backbiting and fighting is hilarious and some of the most ludicrous details are the bits which are actually the most historically accurate.
Iannucci made his name in British radio and then TV comedy before going stateside with In the Loop and Veep. But here he has hit it out of the park. In a world of Dirty Grandpas and crappy product placement disguised as comedy vehicles, this is one of the most original comedies of the last decade. There’s a wealth of comic detail and wonderfully realized performances from everyone including Andrea Riseborough and Rupert Friend as Stalin’s hilariously mad children. It’s pertinence to the current resident of the Kremlin can be seen in the fact that it has been banned in Russia. Iannucci’s talent should now be employed closer to home.