Russia, 1953. Joseph Stalin has died following a heart attack. The world he leaves behind is thrown into chaos as a small group of power-hungry government officials scramble amongst themselves in an effort to take control.
Fans of The Thick of It, Veep and In The Loop will be in familiar territory with writer/director Armando Iannucci’s latest movie, The Death of Stalin, which sees him turn his hand to the dark days of Soviet Russia following the death of its sinister dictator.
Based on real events, the film is funny – but darkly so - in part due to the historical accuracy which underpins its narrative. You’re laughing because you know it is true!
Iannucci has drawn together an exemplary group of actors who uniformly deliver outstanding performances. Jeffery Tambor, Michael Palin, Simon Russell Beale, Steve Buscemi, Paul Whitehouse and Jason Isaacs each take to the task perfectly, summing up the madness, paranoia, deceit and divisiveness of their characters in often hilarious ways.
There is also not a Russian accent to be found. Iannucci’s intention is deliberate as he seeks to make a film for a 21st century audience.
I doubt you will see a better comedy this year and there is an argument to suggest you may not see many better movies overall in 2017.
So if you want to invest a couple of hours in something that will keep you laughing, talking and thinking long after you have left the cinema, The Death of Stalin is the movie for you.
George R Vaughan