Parents' Guide to

Ashes in the Snow

By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

True-to-book WWII adaptation is violent, sad, emotional.

Movie NR 2019 98 minutes
Ashes in the Snow Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 16+

Based on 1 parent review

age 16+

Haunting movie about hidden history

I have seen this movie twice. The second time I took my 16-year-old to see it. Like the book, the film is incredibly moving, but it is extremely difficult to watch at points. The acting is superb. The overall look of the film is like that of a Rembrandt painting. If you want your children to know about what happened to many of the people in the Baltic region during World War II and the following years, the film would be extremely valuable. I would suggest reading the book first. Also, keep in mind that there is violence, as well as foul language and some sexual content, but it is appropriate to the story. I wouldn’t take a younger child. High school age and above. All of it was shot in Lithuania, and many survivors of the deportation and their descendants appeared as extras in the film. (Many of them sing the national anthem in the train car. ) Read about what happened during Stalin’s reign, that we might not forget.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (4 ):

Beautiful scenery and powerful actors bring Sepetys' book to life, with much of the plot (including its brutal violence) intact in this painful, emotional adaptation. Many of Ashes in the Snow's story beats will seem familiar to viewers who've watched a Holocaust drama (and certainly those who've read the source novel): Lina's early life seems like a dream of contentment, with comfort, a loving family, a fancy car, flirtatious boys. But after the soldiers' nighttime visit, there's no more sunshine, no more ease. There are only beets and dirt and cold and sudden bullets, a family ripped apart, a bleak future.

Powley's huge eyes communicate Lina's bottomless pain, and Kongsli is terrific as her steadfast, principled mother. Martin Wallström is also effective as the tortured Kretzsky, a half-Ukrainian soldier who knows he's being pushed into doing the terrible things he must do to rise in Stalin's army -- but does them anyway. Nothing comes easy for these characters, and that makes the film not very easy to watch. But as a document of WWII horrors that are far less well-known than the Holocaust, Ashes in the Snow is an invaluable document that illuminates a terrible period in world history.

Movie Details

Inclusion information powered by

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate