Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer

Movie review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer Movie Poster Image
Bristling docu about Russian protesters may fascinate teens.
  • NR
  • 2014
  • 88 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive messages

The value of art as a method of protest and the power of peaceful dissent are both spotlighted.

Positive role models & representations

The three members of the group spotlighted in the documentary are all principled young women willing to fight and serve time for what they believe in. Some of their actions, however, contain messages that may make parents of teens uncomfortable. And they are breaking the law, whether the law is just is another question.

Violence

Viewers will see many scenes of protests, some of which include protesters throwing objects and police wrestling them roughly into their vehicles.

Sex

One lengthy scene shows members of Pussy Riot at an action with another art protest group at which men and women had group sex in a public place; we see thrusting and breasts but no genitals or genital contact. We also see what appears to be oral sex. One of the women copulating is eight months pregnant.

Language

Aside from the word in the movie's title, a few four-letter words are used: "They're f--king prosecuting!" and "God s--t!" There is also some threatening language directed at the Pussy Riot prisoners, including when they are taunted that they will be "killed in Siberia," and some repeated song lyrics, which contain references to violence, death, and bodily functions.

Consumerism

Pussy Riot has released a CD and we hear some of the songs featured on it.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer is a documentary about a Russian protest group made up of young women that sometimes uses shocking methods to make its points. The central protest in the film involves a performance at a Russian Orthodox cathedral where the protesters sing sacrilegious lyrics, for which they are later arrested and jailed. There's also an event depicted where protesters have public sex (we see naked bodies and thrusting from three couples in the same room; breasts are visible, but no genitals; one of the participants is heavily pregnant). The young women and others use a few curse words and sing songs featuring violence and obscene language. Viewers will learn a lot about the history of Russian protest and the political and social milieu in Russia; they may also be given much to consider about the nature of protest and social change. Much of the movie is in Russian, with subtitles.

User Reviews

Parent Written byJohn A July 3, 2013

WHAT IS THIS?!

I can't watch this!
Parent of a 11 year old Written bySternAndFair February 24, 2014

Do they Know The Name Means is A Vagina?

As this is innaappropriate to call a band a Vagaina as young boys perhaps here this, giggle in class to make the daughter mates feel sad and worried! And to thi... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bymcfaddenskyler July 3, 2013

What's the story?

Members of Russian protest group Pussy Riot made headlines in 2012 after they were arrested for a peaceful political action inside a Russian Orthodox cathedral. PUSSY RIOT: A PUNK PRAYER follows the group from just before that action to several months later, when three members have been arrested and sentenced to two years in prison. Nadia, Masha, and Katia are the three members in question, and they're smart and articulate Russian women who despise Vladimir Putin and his regime. Why can't women give services and stand at the altar in the Russian Orthodox church, they ask. Why do the Putinites favor repressive action over citizen involvement? Of course, they don't "ask" by asking, exactly, but instead, by staging concerts in unusual, pointed locations while Pussy Riot members wear brightly colored dresses and identity-concealing balaclavas while they play deafening punk songs about Putin wetting himself or politicians getting poisoned. We meet members of Pussy Riot who explain the group's politics, politically and socially conservative Russians who oppose them, and the agonized family members who are watching their daughter (wife, mother) spend time in jail for essentially dancing in the wrong place.

Is it any good?

Weaned as Westerners are on images of women taking charge, footage of Pussy Riot in action reads to this audience as exciting, inspiring, maybe even a little bit sexy. Learning how the average Russian views their actions is like a bucket of cold water to the face. Russian women aren't supposed to get up and dance around, sing lyrics about the Russian President urinating on himself. To us it looks amusing. To their home country, these women are crazy, obscene, maybe even scary.

Teens will probably be attracted to the way the Pussy Riot looks and sounds, if not as thrilled with the parts of the documentary in which we languish in a courtroom, just like Katia, Masha, and Nadia. Overall, however, this is a moving and relatable document about what looks to be a bunch of carefree twentysomethings who gave a finger to The Man and received one heck of a comeuppance. It may ignite revolutionary tendencies in teens. Whether this is a good or a bad thing is up to you.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether Pussy Riot's actions would have landed them in jail in America. Are protesters ever arrested in America? Do they serve time in jail? How is the tolerance of protest different in the U.S. and Russia?

  • The arrest of Pussy Riot members drew widespread attention because many outside Russia see the arrest as immoral and politically motivated. Do you think the makers of this documentary agree with that viewpoint? What about the film brings you to this conclusion?

  • After watching the film, what differences can you identify between a Russian trial and an American one? Which country would you rather stand trial in? Why?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love true stories

Our editors recommend

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

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate