- The Death of Stalin
- Opening March 16
- Directed by Armando Iannucci
- Written by Armando Iannucci, David Schneider, Ian Martin and Peter Fellows
- Starring Steve Buscemi, Simon Russell Beale
- Classification 14A
- 106 minutes
Armando Iannucci, known to North American audiences via Veep but also as the co-creator of Steve Coogan’s Alan Partridge character on British TV, does a delightful takedown of absolutist regimes in this black comedy about Stalin’s toadies jockeying for power after the big man is felled by a stroke.
Most of us will know that Nikita Khrushchev (a clowning wise guy courtesy of Steve Buscemi) will somehow win his battle for power against the secret-police boss Lavrentiy Beria (Simon Russell Beale creates a depraved bully). But getting there is suspenseful enough to make this the rare satire that never wears out its welcome, as the Keystone Cops try to find the ailing Stalin a doctor – Beria’s thugs have killed all the good ones – and then plan his state funeral.
There is one thing that power can’t stand, and that is to be mocked: The social importance of this topical romp should not be underestimated.