In early-1953 Moscow, under the Great Terror's heavy cloak of state paranoia, the ever-watchful Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin, collapses unexpectedly of a brain hemorrhage. Inevitably, when his body is discovered the following morning, a frenetic surge of raw panic spreads like a virus among the senior members of the Council of Ministers as they scramble to maintain order, weed out the competition, and, ultimately, take power. But in the middle of a gut-wrenching roller-coaster of incessant plotting, tireless machinations, and frail allegiances, absolutely no one is safe; not even the feared chief of the secret police, Lavrenti Beria. In the end, who will prevail after the death of Stalin?Written by
The film was screened in the Platform section at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and received critical acclaim. It caused controversy in Russia and many other former members of the Soviet Union, and was banned in Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan. See more »
In the concert scene, at least one cello appears to be using a modern combination of Larsen A and D and Thomastik Spirocore G and C strings. Larsen strings were not manufactured until about the 1980s and it is doubtful that Thomastik strings (of Viennese origin) would have been available in Soviet Russia. See more »
[looking at Malenkov's new hairstyle]
Jesus Christ, did Coco Chanel take a shit on your head?
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Black-and-white photographs of the main characters appear over the end credits, but various figures are airbrushed out, have their faces defaced, or have other people superimposed over them, as per Soviet photos of Trotsky and purge victims. See more »
This is an excellent film. And its treatment of the Stalin Era of the Soviet Union is both darkly humorous and actually very unflinching in its depicting the monsters and their monstrosities for what they were.
I was worried that, in an attempt to extract humor from the situation that they might've glossed over just how monstrous the key characters actually were. To Iannucci and Schneider's credit however, there was absolutely no glossing over at all. Beria, for instance, is portrayed as every bit the monster in human form that he was - this, even as that portrayal is also made darkly and delightfully humorous at times.
The whole cast played their parts well and played them "straight" - which only heightened the humor and the horror of what life was like under Stalin in the Soviet Union. Even the nominal "hero" of the tale, Nakita Khrushchev, is realistically portrayed as being just as conniving and callous and power hungry as everyone else. Buscemi would seem an odd choice for that particular role but he pulls it off with style and excellence. So too does Simon Russell Beale in his portrayal of Beria.
This is a nicely done film with excellent production values, a great script, fine acting, excellent pacing, and a compelling tale that is well told.
I highly recommend it!
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