Armando Iannucci’s The Death of Stalin is nearly two hours of men in bad suits bickering, but if you have to sit through nearly two hours of men in bad suits bickering you would want it to be written (and directed) by Iannucci. So there’s that, but it’s still not up there with his previous film, In the Loop. It’s funny but not as funny, misfires in places, and by the end you are rather thinking: come on, one of you seize power, so we can all just get out of here.
On this outing, Iannucci has substituted Whitehall and White House backbiting (The Thick of It, Veep) for Russia in 1953, the sudden death of Stalin, and the fierce scramble to succeed him. It satirises power, ambition and incompetence, and features an ensemble cast with Simon Russell Beale as Beria (security chief), Jeffrey Tambor as Malenkov (deputy leader), Steve Buscemi as Khrushchev (party secretary), Michael Palin as Molotov (minister for foreign affairs) and Paul Whitehouse as Mikoyan (can’t remember).