Sniper: The White Raven review – raw account of Ukrainian resistance in Donbas | Movies

this war film from Ukraine was made before the large-scale invasion in February and tells the important story of how Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting in eastern Donbas since 2014. Director Marian Bushan co-wrote the script with soldier-turned-school teacher Mykola Voronin, apparently inspired by some of his actual experiences. Their story inevitably resonates, but I watched it with a somewhat sinking feeling of witnessing the raw truth fictionalized into bland drama with all the war movie clichés in the book.

Ukrainian musician and actor Aldoshyn Pavlo stars as Mykola, a shaggy, shaggy-haired pacifist hippie who teaches math and physics in high school. Mykola has moved to depopulate and deindustrialize eastern Ukraine to live off-grid in a ramshackle barn with his pregnant wife Nastya (Maryna Koshkina). In the film’s cheesily idyllic opening scenes, we see her lazing about her days while carving wood and sketching wildlife. The couple has no TV or telephone, so they miss warnings about the imminent Russian invasion. When Nastya is brutally murdered, Mykola joins a volunteer battalion and vows revenge on the Russians who killed his wife. He has been nicknamed ‘Civvie’ by Ukrainian officers who think he will spend a week in the army.

As Mykola switches to warrior mode, the training scenes are predictable: the pushups in the rain, pumping weights, scrambling under nets on obstacle courses. His soft handsome face is soon chiseled in fierceness, porcelain blue eyes glistening with anger. At first, cops laugh at how hopeless he is with a gun; then of course comes the triumphant scene where he shows them all what he’s made of, disassembling and reassembling an AK-47 blindfolded in 20 seconds. Ta da. After that, Mykola earns the nickname Raven and becomes a sniper.

Strangely enough, like a war film written by a soldier, this material has a sense of authenticity and authority. And yet it is a noble attempt to honor the resilience of the Ukrainians and the courage of ordinary people like Voronin, who are fighting for freedom.

Sniper: The White Raven will be released on digital platforms on October 3.

Leave a Comment