Follows the Soviet dictator’s last days and depicts the chaos of the regime after his death.
Director: Armando Iannucci
Writers: Armando Iannucci, David Schneider
Stars: Andrea Riseborough, Jason Isaacs, Olga Kurylenko, Steve Buscemi
Don’t be fooled by the title, this clever and decidedly different “horrible history” chronicles the immediate before, during and aftermath of the demise of the Soviet dictator, and is written and directed by Armando Iannucci, the man behind hit TV series The Thick of It and Veep. But if it is history, it’s not history as we know it, as it’s played as broad comedy, and in an array of English and US accents. Yet it still manages to convey a real sense of what Soviet life must have been like during Stalin’s paranoid “Great Terror” and the Kremlin power struggle that followed his death. The crack cast includes Jason Isaacs, Jeffrey Tambor, Michael Palin and Andrea Riseborough, but it’s Simon Russell Beale (as secret police boss Beria) and Steve Buscemi (as future party leader Khrushchev) who stand out from an outstanding crowd. Indeed, kudos are deserved everywhere for a well-written, beautifully played and offbeat piece of re-imagined history that’s always funny despite humour sometimes stemming from a distinct sense of unease.
– Dave Aldridge, Radio Times