The Funniest Film of the Year is Out Today

By James O Malley on at

Stop what you're doing, head to your local cinema's website and book some tickets: The Death of Stalin is out today.

It's the latest work by Armando Iannucci, the legendary comedy writer whose previous credits include The Day Today, Alan Partridge, The Thick Of It, Veep and countless other works, including the self-titled The Armando Iannucci Shows and Time Trumpet. Essentially, if you've watched a British comedy in the last twenty years or so and enjoyed it, he probably has a hand in it somewhere.

After providing the definitive satire of the New Labour years with Malcolm Tucker, and after puncturing the pomposity of the White House with Selina Meyer, Iannucci has now turned his focus to history.

The Death of Stalin follows the events of 1953, as a cadre of top Soviet officials jockey to replace the newly deceased leader. And having been lucky enough to attend a preview screening, Giz UK can give its official seal of approval.

Stylistically it is reminiscent of the same sort of chaos we're used to seeing in TTOI - perhaps unsurprisingly, that show's "swearing consultant" Ian Martin is a co-writer alongside Day Today and Partridge veteran David Schneider. What is different though is, perhaps understandably given the subject matter, the subtle and not-so-subtle allusions to the much darker things going on in Soviet Russia, giving the humour a jet black undercoat.

The film boasts an all-star cast, including Michael Palin as Vyacheslav Molotov, Steve Buscemi as Nikita Khrushchev and Jeffrey Tambor as Georgy Malenkov. I've no idea if General Georgy Zhukov really did have a Yorkshire accent, but somehow Jason Isaacs seems to perfectly capture who that character needs to be.

What's perhaps all the more remarkable given the on-screen farce is that the events depicted in the film are broadly historically accurate, with major plot beats mirroring real life events. Seriously, after seeing the film, go and give Wikipedia a skim. But where the film also works is not just as a historical piece. Unsurprisingly, the chaotic dynamic between the characters is perhaps almost as evocative of the reports we hear daily from the White House as Trump's advisors all jockey for position.

This is only a very short review, as we don't want to spoil the fun - but take it from us: The Death of Stalin is a film you should seek out.


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