Now is the movie-viewing winter of our discontent. It’s common to refer to the first month of the year as a dumping ground for unpromising fare. “Ashes in the Snow,” directed by Marius A. Markevicius from a script by Ben York Jones (adapting the young adult novel Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys) has an opening title card of the sort I’ve come to dread: “Inspired By True Events.” The reason for my dread lies in what those words avoid, which is responsibility. If you say something is “based on” “truth” or “a true story,” you’re holding yourself at least a little bit accountable for something. If you’re just going with “inspired” by “events,” you’re asking for credibility while also trying to get off a hook or two.
The historical fact upon which this picture is premised is the Soviet Union’s deportation, at certain times during World War II, of inhabitants of several Eastern European countries to hard labor camps in Siberia, for many a sentence equivalent to death. Prison camps and communities in the far reaches of Siberia stretch back to the