With his second feature comedy The Death of Stalin, Armando Iannucci pulls off a balancing act that’s more remarkable the more you think about it: this is a film that’s both mercilessly grim and uproariously funny. It’s the blackest of black comedies, set in the Soviet Union circa 1953, as security forces routinely gathered and executed citizens who’d made their way onto General Secretary Joseph Stalin’s enemies list & yet its bleakness is offset by its anarchic spirit.
The Death Of Stalin is superbly cast (outstanding performances by Michael Palin, Steve Buscemi, Simon Russell Beale, Paddy Considine, Rupert Friend, Jason Isaacs, Andrea Riseborough & Jeffrey Tambor amongst others) and acted with icy and ruthless force by an A-list lineup. There are no weak links. Each has a plum role; each squeezes every gorgeous horrible drop.
If you loved Iannucci’s past work, you’re going to love The Death Of Stalin. And if you loved those previous projects for the mean-spirited streak, you might even have a new favourite Iannucci film to look forward to.