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Adrian Mcloughlin – Joseph Stalin
Steve Buscemi – Nikita Khrushchev
Paddy Considine – Comrade Andreyev
Jeffrey Tambor – Georgy Malenkov
Rupert Friend – Vasily Stalin
Simon Russell Beale – Lavrentiy Beria
Jason Isaacs – Georgy Zhukov
Michael Palin – Vyacheslav Molotov
Andrea Riseborough – Svetlana Stalina
The Death of Stalin is just brilliant. I haven’t sat in an auditorium more electric than this in years; the cinema was positively fizzing on Saturday evening as one hilarious scene after another played on the big screen. This movie is satire at its absolute best as Tambor, Isaacs, Riseborough and Friend (to name only a few) bind together and detonate the screen with wit, sarcasm, frustration and a few more emotions which make up one hell of a riotous performance. Some of the dialogue taking place between characters is timed to perfection, with the actors dropping hilarious one-liners on each other at the same time as actual script delivery. The Death of Stalin has a stand-up comedy feel about it, which I reckon is the reason why at least 70% of the audience were in stitches throughout. I have to admit – I fucking HOWLED with laughter at certain points, along with others in the cinema.
This film would be ideal as a live theatre production. It contains exactly the right amount of farce to make an impact up on stage and the structure of it is perfect, with enough character entrances and exits to feed that continuous air of live comedy some productions do. One in – one out – one shouting and swearing whilst it’s all happening – brilliant. The Death of Stalin could easily be performed in the West End or on Broadway, it’s the golden ingredients for theatre.
The casting is quite varied; a mix of actors of an older generation each offering something different. The youngest of the lot seems to be Friend, who serves up the movie’s buffoon. The man adopts an upper-class persona so rigid in personality that it’s almost impossible not to find the man amusing. Especially when trying to wrestle one of Stalin’s associates which somehow goes on for so long (the man he’s trying to wrestle simply standing still on the spot) that the situation becomes ridiculously funny, Friend clawing at his calm opponent like a wild animal.
I love nothing more in a film than bizarre lines or actions. Moments of drama so random that they make more entertainment than sense, and this is where The Death of Stalin exceeded my expectations.
A moment of grief is interrupted by opinions on home furnishings when Stalin’s daughter Svetlana visits the dictator’s home, sits with her hands covering her face – and then suddenly sits up – points across the room – and exclaims, “who puts a lamp on a chair?”.
When Georgy Malenkov is brought to the front line and has his portrait painted by a local artist, he is invited into a room to view two very similar masterpieces. He pauses – points at one – and then announces, “have this one destroyed”.
When all followers of Stalin gather at his funeral, the men form a neat circle and have a conversation so self-important that it becomes a topic you just do not discuss at such a sombre occasion.
Random. And hilarious.
Fans of satire, I urge you to watch The Death of Stalin. And I would seriously recommend watching it with a few friends; it is one of those productions where the painfully funny vibes would be best enjoyed in the company of others who also appreciate it. I can’t decribe the atmosphere in the cinema as I sat smirking, waiting for the next laugh-out-loud moment to happen, it was pure electric. Now perhaps this was because I was part of a massive live audience, let’s face it – a movie enjoyed heartily at the cinema can be vastly different when watching it in the privacy of your own home.
This is the reason I suggest you watch with others.
The older viewers in the cinema were loving it, the younger viewers loving it even more. This is one to watch. You’ll be glad you did.