Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game.
It’s 1953, and Joseph Stalin is supreme leader of the Soviet union. His rule is so absolute, so terrifying, that everyone lives in constant fear that they may be killed. It’s gotten to the point where people can’t even answer the door, or pick up the phone, without bidding their loved ones goodbye. Then one day, out of nowhere, Stalin dies, and everything is thrown into turmoil. Who’ll take his place? Who’ll be executed? What reforms should be implemented? Should reforms be implemented? All of this depends on which member of Stalin’s inner circle, the dim-witted Georgy Malenkov, the crafty Nikita Khrushchev, or the ruthless Lavrentiy Beria, will assume power. And, the truth is, whichever one of them does win, everyone else still loses.
The Death Of Stalin is the type of comedy that will only appeal to a very specific breed of audience member. If you are a deeply cynical person, who fancies yourself something of an academic, you’ll probably like this movie, because it’s got some very clever wordplay, and some truly repugnant characters. If, however, you go into comedies to laugh, and feel good about the world, avoid this film like the plague. Because, as witty as some of the dialogue is, it’s not really laugh-out-loud funny, and the characters in this movie, as I said, are awful. Granted, the people that they’re based off of really were that bad, but it’s hard to get invested in any one person in this movie when they’re all, objectively, terrible. Literally every single one of them is a murderer, rapist, liar, and bigot. As such, when you watch the film, it’s not because you want any one character to succeed. Rather, it’s more because you can get a smug sense of satisfaction out of watching these mean-spirited morons backstab each other. But, the truth is, that can only carry you for so long. Sooner or later, you need something, someone, to latch onto. And this film doesn’t really have that.
Now, on the one hand, I would argue that personal preference should be kept out of film criticism, because the purpose of criticism is to objectively assess the craftsmanship on display in a work of art. (Someone who instinctively has an aversion to horror films, because they don’t like to be scared, probably shouldn’t review a horror movie.) At the same time, however, certain genres of film truly are subjective. Comedy is one of them. They are meant, first and foremost, to make you laugh, and what people find funny varies from person to person. So, again, if you like mean-spirited, cynical humor, which paints a bleak portrait of humanity, you’ll love this film. If you don’t, you won’t. Taste really is the deciding factor in this movie, because, as with most modern comedies, the humor in this film doesn’t derive from sight gags, silly sound-effects, or funny camerawork. It derives from dialogue. Most scenes are done in long, hand-held wide shots, and just consists of people yelling at each other. This is not a visually dynamic film. All your potential entertainment comes from the dialogue, and if you’re not a fan of the humor, you won’t be a fan of this movie. So, in the end, I don’t know if I can recommend this movie to you all. If you’re a cynic, maybe check it out. If not, don’t bother with it.