Born outside Moscow in 1989, Masha Drakova is a member of the first generation raised in Russia in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union. At the impressionable age of 15, she was recruited to join Nashi, a political youth group created by the Kremlin to shape the country's future leaders via a subtle form of mass mind control.
Consequently, young Masha soon took to heart the benign party line about the organization's primarily being pro-democracy and anti-fascist. And within a year, the poised and pretty patriot was promoted to a top position as the student movement's spokesperson.
Rising through the ranks, Masha was richly rewarded during her tenure as a reliable mouthpiece, enjoying her own television talk show, as well as such perks as a car, an apartment and a college education, all paid for by the government. She also became famous as the girl who had kissed Vladimir Putin after receiving a widely-publicized peck on the cheek while accepting a medal from him.
Totally taken with the President, Masha stated openly that he was the role model for the type of man she'd like to marry someday, citing such virtues as his strength, charisma and intelligence. But in swallowing the proverbial Kool-Aid hook, line and sinker, she was blinded to the secret flaws in her idol's persona.
Truth be told, Putin was a tyrant who was simultaneously discouraging dissent with the help of an army of henchmen comprised of Nashi zealots. His loyal goon squads were willing to advance the power-hungry President's agenda by any means necessary, whether that called for burning books, breaking a journalist's jaw, or by pooping on a political opponent's automobile.
'Putin's Kiss' is a daring documentary which carefully chronicles all of the above, along with Masha's gradual disillusionment with Putin and his repressive regime. The movie marks the marvelous directorial debut of Sweden's Lise Birk Pederson, an intrepid first-time filmmaker who ostensibly put herself and her brave subjects at considerable risk to shoot such an incendiary story on location in such an unforgiving police state.
An eye opening expose' not to missed, which reveals a "New Russia" that looks a lot like the "Old Russia."
Excellent (4 stars)
In Russian with subtitles.
Running time: 85 minutes
Distributor: Kino Lorber Films
See a trailer for 'Putin's Kiss'