Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer Review

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Score

A nuts and bolts document of the martyrdom of Russian punk activists, Pussy Riot.

On 21 February, 2012, Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour became the venue of one of the seminal music concerts of the 21st century. Knitted balaclava-sporting art punk renegades, Pussy Riot, stormed the building armed with shredding hard rock and bile-fuelled lyrics in order to take a stand and vehemently bemoan the dangerous relationship between church and state in Russia.

They were bundled into vans by burly security guards, soon to become martyrs for their cause by receiving custodial sentences for their so-called "crime". Vladimir Putin’s behind-the-scenes involvement in their inevitable punishment has been mooted, but the whole case marks an example of the effects of radical political activism being hugely exacerbated by the unalloyed brutality of the response.

Mike Lerner and Maxim Pozdorovkin’s documentary is slick, but hardly revelatory, offering a chronological précis of the band’s recent machinations which cheerleads for its righteous subjects while sticking it to The Man at any given opportunity. It’s hard not to sympathise with the band, particularly as they channel their protest into everything from the clothes they wear in court, the manner in which they interact with their crowds of supporters and their rousing speeches which are summarily dismissed as artsy juvenile hectoring.

Yet the film doesn’t place the Pussy Riot phenomenon into a wider context, showing only the brutality of the police, the marginal extremism of the Russian Orthodox Church and the demonic power mongering of the government. Documented ructions between the band, their parents, the legal council and their partners are notably absent.

Anticipation

The Pussy Riot saga has been big news, so will this add anything new to the debate?

3

Enjoyment

Not really. It seems purpose built for those with no idea of who Pussy Riot are and what they did.

3

In Retrospect

A missed opportunity to use an isolated event to explore wider issues.

2
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