Bitter Harvest

Rated 1.0

TV movie veteran George Mendeluk directs this would-be epic set during the Holodomor, a largely unknown genocidal famine that occurred in Ukraine between the world wars, as Stalin deliberately starved the country to death. Unfortunately, the stiff performances, slipshod production values and overall incompetence hardly serve the gravity of the real-life events. It seems like Mendeluk and his writer Richard Bachynsky Hoover were striving for something sweeping and old-fashioned, but the end result is claustrophobic and comically out-of-touch. The supporting cast mixes abashed slummers like Barry Peppers and Terence Stamp with equally abashed no-names, and as the wishy-washy protagonist who learns to love the saber, 30-something “adolescent” Max Irons gives a performance that can only be described as bad. Although there have been three previous films with the same title, this Bitter Harvest is an original story based on real-life events, so at least no beloved source materials were blasphemed. D.B.