Armando Iannucci, the creator of HBO’s Veep, received an Academy Award nomination for writing 2009’s In the Loop. His long-awaited follow-up, The Death of Stalin, premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival, where its black humor delighted audiences and critics alike.
Russia, 1953: The mood under Stalin’s despotic regime is one of rampant paranoia. Spouses inform on one another, the secret police are always listening, and death squads roam the streets executing “traitors.” One morning, the dictator is found comatose after a massive stroke, triggering an absurd, hysterical, and deadly power grab among his closest sycophants and confidants.
Writer/director Iannucci brings his singularly hilarious misanthropy to this decidedly bleak setting, tackling real-world figures for the first time in his career. A murderer’s row of great British and American actors, including Steve Buscemi, Andrea Riseborough, and a never-better Jason Isaacs, bring Stalin’s inner circle of cronies and backstabbers to uproarious life. The Death of Stalin is a painfully relevant, pitch-black morality tale that shows what happens when too much power is concentrated in the hands of too few.
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