Highly anticipated, my expectations were painfully, slowly slaughtered as the film progressed; director Armando Iannucci’s dark parody, ironically and at times scathingly sharp, depicts the mendacious scavengers hovering around the stricken Stalin (Adrian Mcloughlin) in 1953. His greedy sycophants, acted by Steve Buscemi (Nikita Khrushchev, an unrealistic leap of faith required in his casting, not to disparage Buscemi’s impeccable comedic timing); Jeffrey Tambor, imbues the nitwit Georgy Malenkov, with aplomb; Jason Isaacs, as Field Marshall Georgy Zhokov, dashingly amoral; Simon Russell Beale is credible as the king of conniving duplicity, Laurentiy Beria; at the core is a contagious evil infecting, with flavorless comedy, their toxic sphere. A sparse audience, never guffaws, barely chuckles, settling into a benign ennui: it wasn’t that it was bad, but it wasn’t good either.
Expecting the raucous hilarity of “The Producers” (“Springtime for Hitler” still elicits uncontainable laughter); “The Death of Stalin” will swiftly fade from theatres and one’s consciousness.
TWO STARS & 1/2 STARS!!