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Diff 2017 film review: ‘The Death of Stalin’ lacks punch

The satirical work is beautifully shot but lacks a dynamic element

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Set in 1953 Russia, the movie The Death of Stalin, which screened at the 14th Dubai International Film Festival, is a satirical rendition of the death of former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. The story follows Stalin’s top government officials as they battle it out to secure their power and future.

With a star-studded cast that includes Steve Buscemi and Jeffrey Tambour, the movie tries to take on the gravity of loss with humour. Directed by Armando Iannucci, a Scottish writer and author, The Death of Stalin is beautifully shot but lacks a dynamic element. The plain storyline and seemingly stagnating plot make for a two-hour watch, with no real moments of reflection.

Moreover, the movie’s dark humour is neither smart nor witty. The vulgar and often tasteless dialogue made the audience certainly giggle at times, but were they laughing consciously? The deaths of millions reduced to one-liners appeared distasteful.

However, Iannucci did manage to reach the audience through brilliant cinematography. Various scenes offered startling insight into how the former Russian government took decisions. In contrast, the main characters lack depth, with nothing substantial linking to their past or the impact they had on the population.

Subsequently, this turned feared men into parodies, thus creating a superficial vision of a crucial part of history.

— The Young Journalist Award (YJA) at Diff is a training programme for high school and university students who are aspiring writers and reporters. Seven students are competing at the festival this year. One winner will secure a monthlong internship with Gulf News.