Mustang (7/10)



In a Turkish village, five orphaned sisters live under strict rule while members of their family prepare their arranged marriages.

Title Mustang
Director Deniz Gamze Ergüven
Runtime 1 h 37 min
Certification PG-13
Release Date 17 June 2015
IMDb Id tt3966404

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This is an interesting movie. Five girls live with their grandmother in a small Turkish village, enjoying a seemingly carefree existence with friends and school. It soon becomes clear they are too carefree for their local environment: when one day they play and frolic with some boys from school by the seaside, a nosy neighbour tells on them to their grandmother. But worse, when their uncle finds out about their behaviour – acceptable to westerners, unacceptable in this Turkish community – he comes down on them, and his mother, as hard as he can. He decides it is time for them to conform to the local rules – their clothes get replaced by shapeless brown bag-like dresses, they get taken out of school and get educated in domestic chores and duties so they can make a good wife soon, and the house gets slowly transformed into a prison by gates in front of the doors and bars in front of the windows. Not long after a parade of suitors are invited to start marrying off the girls, so that the substitute parental duties of grandma and uncle will be over, and the girls will find a respectable place in the community. The girls aren’t going to give in and confirm without a fight though…

The acting of the five sisters is great – they are not professional actors and it does feel like it’s just five friends playing around – very natural. The story is an easy watch, and it is easy feel the oppression of women in the environment pictured and be annoyed or outraged by it.

And that is where the script sometimes takes the easy option. I don’t want to give any spoilers so I can’t quite say what I mean, but there are a couple of events that are easy plot elements to further rile up the audience, but actually take something away from this movie wanting to be a flag bearer for feminist liberation in rural Turkey. Some of the behaviour of the girls is out of line by anyone’s standards – even in a liberal western society a parent (-al figure) would be rightfully pulling in the reigns on their daughter(s) if that happened; and some of the behaviour of the uncle shows him as an abusive individual in a very small but in my view more than unnecessary scene that detracts from the indictment of a broader culture – now we have an individual to despise.

But don’t let that deter you – it is a good movie. Watch it for the great casting of the girls, let yourself be outraged by the absurdity of the oppression they live under in the name of traditional values, and cheer them on as they battle for their freedom.


Mustang (7/10)
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