Writer and director Armando Iannucci insisted on not having the characters speak with Russian accents, for two reasons: he thought it would take audiences out of the movie, and he did not want the actors and actresses to worry about their accents when improvising. In a promotional interview on BBC Radio 5 for the U.K. release, Iannucci stated that Russian journalists who had previewed this movie praised the decision.
In early-1953 Moscow, under the Great Terror’s heavy cloak of state paranoia, the ever-watchful Soviet leader, Iosif Stalin, collapses unexpectedly of a brain haemorrhage. As a result, when someone discovers his body the following morning, a frenetic surge of raw panic starts spreading like a virus among the senior members of the Council of Ministers, as they scramble to maintain order, weed out the competition, and ultimately take power. But in the middle of a gut-wrenching rollercoaster of incessant plotting, tireless machinations, and frail allegiances, absolutely no one is safe; not even the feared chief of the secret police, Lavrenti Beria. In the end, who will prevail after the death of Stalin?—Nick Riganas