Movie #37 2020: The Death of Stalin (2017)

First off, there is nothing funnier than straight white dudes making fun of straight white dudes. The self-awareness amongst this cast is clever, hilarious, and so very appreciated. On the surface, this movie appears to be a movie made for men, but it turns out that it’s a movie for anyone with even a slight inkling of modern history.

As a fan of Armando Iannucci (yes, I fell in love with Veep just like everyone else did), I was really excited to watch this one. Unfortunately, it was on my watch list for so long that I think I over-hyped it too much in my head…

Before you jump to any conclusions, I don’t think this is a bad film. It just so happens to be one of those films I had so much built-up expectation for that it ended up falling short.

Parts of it – don’t get me wrong – were funny as hell. I audibly laughed at least six times, so it definitely passed the six laugh test. It just so happens that while many sequences were exceptionally funny, there were also scenes that were extremely lagging, and I felt myself getting distracted way too often.

One thing I really did appreciate was that the movie managed to be informative whilst not telling the whole truth. As someone who wrote their university thesis on the early Cold War, I already knew what happened surrounding Stalin’s death. However, as I watched this with my girlfriend, she realised that she was unsure whether or not the movie’s events were true or not. Because of the humorous nature of how the death scenes in particular were displayed, I completely understand that. What is brilliant about this is that it’s story is mostly true. The fear of announcing his death was absolutely the best part of the film, especially the sequences in which the ensemble try to move his lifeless body. That scene will probably stick with me the most… Although I have to admit that Jason Isaacs completely steals the show in every piece he stars in.

Another interesting directorial choice is that Iannucci chose to let each actor keep his own accent. This was an inspired choice, in my opinion. There were no dodgy Russian accents, no distracting, borderline racist voice changes, and it actually ended up contributing to the comedy within this film’s walls.

In short, I can’t say that this is a movie I’d re-watch. But it is definitely worth a shot. (And it’s available on Netflix UK, so that’s a bonus!)

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