Deniz Gamze Ergüven
France | Turkey | Germany
Güneş Şensoy, Doğa Doğuşlu, Elit İşcan, Tuğba Sunguroğlu, İlayda Akdoğan, Nihal Koldaş, Ayberk Pekcan, Erol Afşin Burak Yiğit
In a village in northern Turkey, Lale (Güneş Şensoy) and her four sisters are walking home from school, playing innocently with some boys. The immorality of their play sets off a scandal that has unexpected consequences. The family home is progressively transformed into a prison; instruction in homemaking replaces school and marriages start being arranged.
Nominated for Best Foreign Language Picture at the upcoming Academy Awards, "Mustang" is a spectacular debut film that keenly explores female adolescence but most importantly is a hymn to freedom.
Turkish-French director and screenwriter Deniz Gamze Ergüven demonstrates her ability as she brings intensity and freshness to a story that has a lot of similarities with another great debut, Sofia Coppola's "The Virgin Suicides".
The cleverness of the director lies in keeping a great balance as she describes the contradictions and problems of Turkish society. In fact, while certainly sympathizing with the girls - the narration of the youngest sister not only provides an indication of their feeling but also makes you root for their freedom -, Ergüven makes it clear that arranged marriage of a teenage girl is part of the village customs.
While addressing the issue of women in society - their secondary place mainly due to culture -, at the same time "Mustang" makes a statement about freedom. Unlike "The Virgin Suicides" where the fight for freedom tragically ends with the suicides of the sisters, this film leaves a slight glimmer of hope - and a chance for 'our' girls to realize themselves as women.
Bright and warm in the open spaces and claustrophobic in the house/prison, the photography is excellent. Same goes for Warren Ellis's musical score.
The performances from the lead actresses are phenomenal, very natural and believable, with Güneş Şensoy in the role of Lale, the youngest girl, standing out.