December 10, 2015

Mustang (2015)

Mustang (2015) - Movie Review
Directed by: Deniz Gamze Erguven
Country: Turkey

Movie Review: “Mustang”, the highly expressive debut feature from the French-Turkish filmmaker, Deniz Gamze Erguven, was attractively executed through an unobtrusive direction and a graceful acting. The screenplay, co-written by Erguven and Alice Winocour who directed the audacious “Augustine” three years ago, was pretty straightforward, depicting the lives of five teen orphaned sisters who are suddenly placed in the local ‘market’ by their grandmother and the uncle who raised them, awaiting the first chance to get married. The film starts on the last day of school in an ultra-conservative rural village in Turkey. The sisters are sad to say goodbye to their teacher who will be transferred to Istanbul the following year. The day is sunny and we can almost feel the scents of summer floating in the air. The beautiful and joyful flock, composed by Sonay, Selma, Ece, Nur, and Lale, is willing to enjoy the good weather and decides not to take the bus home, but rather walk, making a stop by the beach where they play games in the company of some boys, and then taking a detour into private grounds to grab some apples. Arriving home, they find the uptight grandmother acting furious, saying the whole village is talking about them because they were rubbing themselves on the boys during their little adventure on the beach. The afflicted grandmother and the stern uncle take security measures to avoid risks, so, higher walls are built, iron bars cover the windows, and the door is tightly bolted in order to confine them home until their marriage. The word is spread out to the village and the suitors arrive one by one to respectfully ask their hands, not before a virginity check-up is made to assure that the girls are conveniently pure. Meanwhile, the sisters disobey the orders, managing to escape and going to a soccer match. Their adventurous spirit wouldn’t be enough if they didn’t come across with an amiable van’s driver called Yasmin, who helped them getting to the stadium, and later on, befriends with the youngest sister and narrator, Lale. Among the girls, the latter is the emotionally strongest, the one who never stops trying to find a way out of the terrifying situation she and her sisters are involved. Ms. Erguven’s vision never goes astray and the approach was carefully outlined to extract the finest impressions from the excellent cast of newcomers. Only some segments of the script, especially the one that leads to the conclusion, could have been set up differently for better. Anyway, “Mustang” works as an eye-opener, demonstrating that some traditions can be extensively traumatizing.

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