Movie: The Death of Stalin
My Rating: 3 stars
What an odd, dark movie. I’m not even quite sure how describe it, because no one archetype really seems to fit this unique film. It’s been advertised as a black comedy about the chaotic days in Russia after Stalin is discovered to have died. Immediately, his family, his cabinet, and political allies are thrown into a panic, trying desperately to fill the power vacuum with something that would be most advantageous (and least perilous) for them. And, I guess it’s technically accurate to call this movie a comedy. I suppose it is a comedic character study. But, the subjects are some of the most ruthless, scheming, power-hungry despots in history. So, any laughs the material generates still leaves one rather unsettled. Because, when that kind of conniving character is sent into a survivalist panic, he’s at his most dangerous. The best thing to survive this kind of upheaval would be to go into deep hiding until the worst of the political storm has blown over. But, the historical figures in this story chose to negotiate and scheme and form alliances instead. And, we all know by now that that really only works for the party that wins.
I found this movie to be very interesting, if not classically entertaining. And, I’m glad I took the time to go see it. I really am a fan of dark comedies. Although, this film definitely falls at the most nihilistic end of the black comedy spectrum. It really does make one feel like life is meaningless, and that all is hopeless. And, that’s not traditionally what people reach for when selecting a diversion. This film is certainly not a crowd pleaser. But, sometimes I get tired of watching the same old thing all the time, and this is just the kind of bizarre headscratcher that can pique my interest. I think I would recommend this movie, but it’s not for your average moviegoer. It would help if you have an interest in Russian history, or a strong appreciation for the blackest humor. I happened to watch this movie with a companion who fell into both categories, so that was a bonus. Although, it was still the kind of movie that when it was over, the whole audience filed wordlessly out of the theater, pretty confused about what they had just seen. I realize that I’m really qualifying my recommendation of this quite a bit. But, if that description hasn’t scared you off this movie, then I think you’ll really get a lot out of it.