|Index||7 reviews in total|
To fully appreciate this documentary, you need to have some idea of the
political situation in Russia today. Although technically a
democratically elected government and wildly popular with the people,
it is essentially a dictatorship. That's because police routinely
arrest opposition party candidates (only to release them AFTER the
election is over) and journalists are murdered--and so, it's actually a
This film is about one element that works hard to enforce the will of Putin and his friends. The NASHI is a youth organization that is fiercely nationalistic, pro-government and against 'enemies of the state'--though these enemies are either vague or people who simply are the opposition party. And, many elements within the NASHI then take it on themselves to attack these folks--after all, they've been repeatedly been told they are the nation's enemies! Sounds familiar? Of course, its parallels to the Hitler Youth are obvious.
Instead of just doing an exposé on NASHI, this film does something very creative. It follows a high officer within NASHI--one of their rising stars. And, through the course of the film you see her gradually begin to question this need to create enemies within Russia. And, she sees friends beaten just for offering civil dissent.
This film is very well-constructed, insightful and will most likely cause a strong reaction within the viewer--all hallmarks of an excellent film. Very thought-provoking--never dull. The bottom line is even if you like Putin, you can't possibly see the system as democratic when the government creates a self-serving youth group and encourages them to 'action' (whatever that means).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The documentary unfolds in the last half of the 2000s (decade) and follows a young Russian girls development in the state organised youth organisation Nashi. Starting with full faith in the systems ideas and ideals, she gradually discovers unresolvable issues between her ideals and the actual consequences of the system, this prompts her to take some difficult choices. I like the film a lot because I think it very accurately portraits a shift in youth perception of this period, from unabridged optimism due to the economical rise of Russia with Putin and the democratic thoughts of Medvedev, to a reluctant realism of the re- arrival of a Sovjet like system. Furthermore although documentary in its nature the film has a number of aesthetic pleasing scenes as well as some scenes that very sharply portrait persons and actions. I would recommend this film to anyone interested in an understanding of modern Russia.
This documentary details the life of a member(Masha Drokova) of Nashi,
youth political organization that supports Vladimir Putin, President
and Prime minister of the Russian Federation.
At first Nashi seems like any type of political youth organization, like Young Democrats of America or Young Republicans. But as this doc claims there are more darker sides to this youth organization that meets the eye.
Nashi seems more preoccupied with trying to silence their opposition using very violent methods, propaganda, using football hooligans to beat up people etc. Masha Drokova at first, denies these allegations but then gets to know one of Putins biggest critics, Oleg Kashin and his friends.
Oleg Kashin claims that Nashi is fully comparable to Hitler Jugend, and that it only serves as mean to brainwash Russia's youth to obey Putin. Masha Drokova on other hand tries to convince him of the opposite until one day.....
This documentary is quite simply just as riveting as any political thriller, look at All the King's Men (1949), Choose Connor (2007), The Ides of March (2011)etc. Or other fascinating documentaries about politics, Follow the Leader: Young, American and Right (2012), The War Room (1993)etc.
What we get to see is a young girl full of idealism, naiveté and also part of the new young Russia that was born after the fall of communism, and has only benefited(socially, economically) during Putins reign.
Viewers interested to know more of Russia today, and why critics seems so hard on Putin, etc should watch this. Others should stay away.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I agree with the other posters who have said that the style of this doc was unnatural and contrived. It didn't have a candid "real life" feel to it; it was like a loosely scripted reality show at times. There were culture shock moments however, like when Masha talked about what book she'd like to burn, and the march was very interesting. The vast membership of Nashi, the aggression behind the group, the funding, and all the details which made it clear that it was a tool for leveraging political control, like a mini FSB was all very intriguing. Overall though this film felt very amateur and it crossed my mind a couple of times that it could be opposition propaganda rather than a legitimate documentary. For a topic of this magnitude they should've had a much larger and more diverse pool of people to interview. With the scope of perspective being so small, the documentary felt more like a school project.
My issues with this film were as follows: - young people acting like idiots (destroying things, beating people up, 'vandalizing' cars, acting out for cameras, joining cult-like groups and leaving them as relationships go hot/cold) is hardly proof of any kind of conspiracy other than young people in Russia are the same as young people everywhere. And that douche-bag men with napoleon complexes will take advantage of them. - the Masha girl whose character arc was the film's arc was completely unbelievable. The tragedy of her is completely common - for a brief time when she was 16-17, she was very attractive. Men treated her well. Because she was a child, she didn't realize that she was being used. (To say she had a position of power in Nashi based on that film is ridiculous, as her power was directly linked to how much the leader wanted her around - that's not real power). As he gets tired of her, she moves on to where she can get that attention from someone else- a group of reporters from the other side (ohhhhh so extreme) (she calls them her friends while they describe her joining their group as great 'social entertainment, to see what will happen'). -She says it herself in her tips of public speaking: 'if you have to give an opinion, believe in it.' (paraphrased) she brainwashes herself to whatever role gets the attention. It's sad for her (although hardly unique). But it also undercuts any believability in this documentary. She's always posing for someone - whether for the leader of Nashi, the danish reporter, the director, or someone else - her 'conversations' are re-enacted and scripted into this role that doesn't seem any more authentic than anything else about her.
Putin's Kiss (shot and edited so as to situate it midway between
documentary and Reality TV show) follows Masha Drokova, a rather naïve
19-year-old who eventually rose to prominence in Nashi, a pro-Russia,
anti-fascist, thug-infested political youth organization. ("Nashi" is
presumably derived from the Russian word for "nationalist" similar to
the way "Nazi" was derived from the German term for National
Socialist.) Nashi offers members "summer camps" reminiscent of both the
Young Pioneers in the Soviet Union and the Hitler Youth. It proves to
have a nasty, violent side that Masha ideologically blinds herself to.
For Masha, though, Nashi held more immediate benefits (new car,
spacious digs, a meeting with the head of the Russian state, the hem of
whose garment she touched).
That gradually changes as she gets to know Oleg Kashin, an opposition journalist who figures prominently in the film. Masha reflexively dislikes him, as her Nashi affiliation requires. True-believer Masha thus serves as foil to Stalwart Oleg, who endures much for his commitment to journalistic professionalism. He has chosen a lonely life of hardship and injury, and we are all glad of it.
Oleg appears as one of two credited cast members on the IMDb "full cast" listing. (Masha's name is curiously not present.) The other cast member being ... Vladimir Putin, formerly a lieutenant colonel in the KGB and now (again) President of the Russian Federation and de facto strongman leader since 1999. (If you watch closely, a secondary theme may emerge: Here's yet another short man who entered public life to make a right pest of himself so as not to be overlooked.)
Actually, the film, set in Moscow, shows hundreds of other political militants as well (thousands, if you count the political rally scenes). A few of them are captioned during public appearances and motivational speeches.
For those who still believed Russia to be a fledgling but functional post-Soviet-era democracy, the film will hold upsetting revelations. One of them is that political leaders see no downside to saying one thing and doing another a tendency yielded to with even more relish and gusto in Russia than in chaotic corners of the EU or in the corporation-beholden US Congress.
Another is how PR-savvy Putin has become in his dealings with the public and the media, the better to put a palatable, modern face on Russia while consolidating absolute control and entrenching the Russian police state. Putin has, for example, cannily overseen the creation of a range of political organizations that act as clubs for Russians young and old, affording them relatively harmless, socially sanctioned, toothless outlets for their nationalism.
But there's little in Putin's strategies that can't be found in countries the world over. Putin just has fewer qualms about making dissidents offers they can't refuse.
For those who even cursorily follow international news, Putin's Kiss will flesh in some details about how the Russian political machine operates. Otherwise, it could prove a yawner after the first half-hour or so. Had this film been made in the West, the full cast would have included a few dozen informants and interviewees. But that's not in the cards in Putin's Russia.
And so, while admiring Oleg's bravery and Masha's political maturation, viewers over, say, age 30 will be left wondering why the film was built around the well-intentioned but bland Masha (including childhood photos of her and other biopic trappings). Is it primarily a self-aggrandizing compensation for political disillusionment? She was likely well placed to arrange for its production via contacts she'd developed as a Nashi figurehead.
Russophiles will find material of interest in Putin's Kiss, as may those who have just begun delving into political studies.
Others ... probably not so much.
As someone who has very little idea what the political system in Russia has been like post Communism, all i can do is remember half formed memories about Gorbechev (remember the naked gun 2 and a half?) and half read articles about Putin from the last couple of years of hastily scanned newspaper coverage, i'm definitely not the ideal guy to say if this movie was great at depicting politically motivated Russian youth. However as a movie with a story that has a beginning, middle, and an end it works OK more or less. Story follows this teenage girl through the ranks of the Nashi youth political movement (again no idea how accurate this comparison is--but it kind of strikes me as a Russian equivalent to the "young republicans" clubs that exist on college campuses and try to be all politically active here in the states--only with severe post communist fears and paranoia about "the other"--you know the whole "if you're not with me then you're my enemy" mentality and of course waay more dangerous thanks to its government sponsoring.) As a movie--the hour and a half runnning time goes by all right enough--but i'd say roughly around the halfway point my interest started to lag just a bit--once the twenty year old version of the former teenage girl starts intersecting and fully investing herself in the plight of the reporter who we've been seeing talking in interviews about her already--the movie kind of tails off in a predictable direction--which isn't a bad thing except there's still roughly a half hour or so left of movie to get through. The subject matter was interesting enough (and informative enough--its certainly something i as the cluess American know very little about, so the doc does an excellent job of giving a informal primer on the background of rhe world of its leading lady and where she comes from.)However, the end of the movie still left me wondering why this particular person was worth knowing about...or why her story was worth a documentary of its very own. At the end of the movie, the young woman certainly seems wiser about whom she'll blindly follow around politically and whom she sees as "an enemy" but most teens aren't that wise--which makes me wonder if she's supposed to be a moral lesson for other Russian youths? I suppose she is which is nice but what was I--Joe America supposed to take away from all of this? Don't be a political pawn?
|External reviews||Official site||Plot keywords|
|Main details||Your user reviews||Your vote history|