Satire is, in some respects, supposed to make the uncomfortable or even tragic funny. Or at least somewhat relatable. It’s meant to take the figures down several pegs, which is why the genre is usually filled with high-society types or other powerful characters. That model is being applied to this week’s The Death of Stalin, which aims to make comedy out of the era of Russian history when Josef Stalin, who had ruled the country with an iron fist, died and the political infighting and jousting that followed as everyone tried to seize power.
Written and directed by Armando Iannucci (“Veep”), the movie stars Steve Buscemi as Nikita Khrushchev, Michael Palin as Vyacheslav Molotov, Jeffrey Tambor as Georgy Malenkov and Jason Isaacs as Field Marshal Zhukov among others. Each one is fumbling over themselves, creating short-lived alliances with others just as quickly as they’re breaking the ones they’ve already made. They’re backstabbing and assassinating as fast as they can.