Bitter Harvest (R)
Mendeluk's childhood sweethearts Yuri (Max Irons) and Natalka (Samantha Barks) have some historically bad timing. Their romance blooms during the Bolshevik Revolution and then grows into the fullness of love on the eve of Stalin's rise to power. Lenin dies shortly after they marry, freeing Stalin to implement Soviet collectivization with extreme prejudice.
Horror and tragedy follow swiftly, though Mendeluk mostly keeps the attention on local events. The Soviet Kommissar in charge of lowering the boom is Sergei (Tamer Hassan), who is so cartoonishly evil he only lacks a handlebar mustache to twirl: He shoots priests, loots the church, hangs Yuri's father Yaroslav (Barry Pepper), forces the villagers off their land and runs down Natalka's mother on horseback, splashing her freshly baked bread with blood.
Bitter Harvest is at its best when Mendeluk concentrates on the big picture, namely the wider effects of the genocide (a scene in which Yuri stows away in a boxcar filled with corpses is particularly affecting). But a subject like the Holodomor demands something more than a TV-movie aesthetic.