“Bitter Harvest”

A Look at the Movies

Rated R

1 hour 40 minutes

Max Irons, Terrence Stamp, Samantha Barka, Barry Pepper

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – You’d think that depicting Soviet dictator Josef Stalin starving 10 million Ukrainians during the birth of Communism might have made “Bitter Harvest” only slightly less romantic than “Dr. Zhivago”

Ah, but according to this more than slightly romanticized history lesson, a sensitive artist became the Ukraine’s greatest hero.

When Stalin’s goons invaded the Ukraine and stole from the peasants all their grain for not being true believer Bolsheviks, who but romantic Yuri, would turn in his paint brush and rebel against the Russian revolution?

As well-meaning as “Bitter Harvest” tries to be, its use of stereotypes like that sadistic Stalinist Commissar, paints this history lesson in the broad strokes of hackwork action adventure, unworthy of the injustice it’s trying to illuminate.

I’m afraid British actor Max Irons isn’t quite up to the demands of playing a convincing swashbuckling savior. As he tells his lover, “If you leave me, I’ll die”…No Yuri, it’s the movie that’s dying for lack of authenticity.

“Bitter Harvest” dredges up lots of melodrama in place of historical insight. The seeds if a second rate script will only grow “Bitter Harvest” a measly 2 stars. Let’s hope future films dealing with injustice actually do justice to those they’re trying to honor.