Star – Steve Buscemi
My Rating ***
Genre – Black comedy
Run Time – 1 hr 47 minutes
Certificate – 18R
Country – U.K
BAFTA’s – 2 Nominations
Awards – 17 Wins & 29 Nominations
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So should there be a satirical comedy in a broad range of comical English accents about a Russian dictator who killed and disappeared over 40 million people? Well Armando Iannuci, the creator of the Thick of It, Brass Eye and the Day Today, thinks there should be and so here we are. It’s certainly not a film I was not expecting to turn up. The Russians, of course, were not happy about the British pi**take over Stalin’s reign and Russia banned it from being shown there.
• Steve Buscemi as Nikita Khrushchev
• Simon Russell Beale as Lavrentiy Beria
• Paddy Considine as Yuri Andreyev
• Rupert Friend as Vasily Stalin
• Jason Isaacs as Georgy Zhukov
• Michael Palin as Vyacheslav Molotov
• Andrea Riseborough as Svetlana Stalina
• Jeffrey Tambor as Georgy Malenkov
• Adrian McLoughlin as Joseph Stalin
• Olga Kurylenko as Maria Yudina
• Paul Whitehouse as Anastas Mikoyan
• Paul Chahidi as Nikolai Bulganin
• Dermot Crowley as Lazar Kaganovich
• James Barriscale as Kliment Voroshilov
• Leeroy Murray as Aleksandr Vasilevsky
• Daniel Fearn as Ivan Konev
• Luke D’Silva as Kirill Moskalenko
• Gerald Lepkowski as Leonid Brezhnev
• Dave Wong as Zhou Enlai
• Richard Brake as Anatoly Tarasov
• Diana Quick as Polina Molotova
• Justin Edwards as Spartak Sokolov (Conductor 1)
• Tom Brooke as Sergei
• Karl Johnson as Lukomsky
• Cara Horgan as Lidiya Timashuk
• Jonathan Aris as Mezhnikov
• Sylvestra Le Touzel as Nina Khrushcheva
Supreme leader Joseph Stalin (Adrian McLoughlin) doesn’t know it yet but it his last night on Earth as he rings Moscow radio station from his chambers to ask for a recording of the concert he has just heard over the airwaves. A worried conductor at the concert hall, Spartak Sokolov (Justin Edwards), has just received that call from his dear leader for that recording. But it’s not recorded and so fearing death for not carrying out his orders they do it all over again, angering the female soprano who has an intense hate for Stalin, Svetlana Stalina (Andrea Riseborough), writing a note to Stalin that will get her killed if he reads it and inserting it in the recording disc.
On that night Staling has a huge stroke and pole axed on the floor. The following morning his trusted maid discovers him as all hell breaks loose. But the politburo members gathered around his semi corpse seem less concerned about his health and more concerned on who should succeed him, the next in line plotting against each other to get the top job.
Interior Minister Lavrently Beria (Simon Russell Beale) pushes deputy to Starlin, Georgy Malenkov (Jeffrey Tambor), for the top job as Stalin finally croaks on his death bed.
Moscow Party Head Nikita Khrushchev (Steve Buscemi) rocks up with the rest of the Committee to decide a procedure pathway for the new leader. But Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov (Michael Palin), whom Stalin had added to one of his lists of enemies the previous night and so the penalty of death, is not surprisingly absent.
Beria orders the NKVD security services to take control of Moscow from the Soviet Army, and replaces Stalin’s enemy lists with his own, reprieving Molotov. Now no one is safe and when the heavily decorated leader of the army, Georgy Zhukov (Jason Isaccs) arrives a new plot takes shape, Stalins drunken son Vasily (Rupert reind) not helping matters.
Vasily Stalin: ‘I know the drill. Smile, shake hands and try not to call them c*nts’.
I have to say I didn’t laugh very much at this and a bit of a misfire for me. It’s just not quite as clever as it thinks it is. The problem is, like most people, I don’t know a great deal about the Russian Revolution stuff and don’t want to. The in-jokes went over my head. It just seems an odd subject for Ianucci to take on from a Brit’s satirical comedy point of view although this is his bag. If it was Russian made it probably would have been hilarious.
With Michael Palin gleefully on board and one or two other British actors known for this type of stage farce I thought it would work. Armando is very good at this stuff and you could see the potential of the subject but he is just too delicate on it for me and perhaps feared the Novichok for going too far. I’m sure the Russian House of Cards version is un-missable on the ear.
It did $25 million so not that great if you consider the line up and the potential here and clearly a movie that died on word-of-mouth. Jason Isaccs playing Georgy Zhukov with a brisk Yorkshire accent although adds a needed British Monty Python silliness to it just doesn’t work for some reason and you feel let down, considering the talent on show. It just don’t think it’s worth recommending guys.
Imdb.com – 7.2 /10.0 (55,234votes)
Rottentomatos.com –96 % critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 88% critic’s approval