Turkish cinematography has always been rich with its colorful films that has successfully entertained its audience for many years. Now, in the 21st century, it has so significantly improved that, those who had followed them, can undoubtedly be amazed by the result. “MUSTANG”, co-written and directed by Deniz Gamze Ergüven, tells a story that may occur only in a remote area of Turkey, but certainly not in its capital. It follows five sisters whose anticipation of the summer dies with their hope for a future when they are accused of misconduct with the local boys. That starts the beginning of their nightmare, that will lead to many unfortunate events that could have been prevented.
Lale and her four sisters, filled their hearts with joy and happiness, are walking home from school, playing innocently with some local boys. When they get back to the house, where they live with their uncle and grandmother, find out that their innocent pastime sets off a huge scandal that leads them to be literally imprisoned in their own house. The short temper of their uncle lead the sisters to a local medical office where they have to go through virginity test. However, that is only the beginning for them to go through the unpleasant dream that unfortunately, was not a dream at all.
It’s amazing to see how the character development progresses in “MUSTANG”. When the film begins, you find Lale narrating the story that occurred with her in the not so distant past. Sometimes, you hear her voice again, when she adds up an important detail that happens throughout the film. Meantime, the life of the girls continues inside the house. You find their uncle, Erol, in a rush to see the girls getting married in order to cover up the so-called “shame”. Everything happens in such a dynamic pace that you don’t really notice how time passes. It’s obvious that without a superb performance by the entire cast, this film would not have been able to achieve such an impressive result.
The main engine of the film is Lale (Günes Sensoy), who is the mastermind of the entire story. The film begins and ends with her, which was a difficult task to carry the entire film on her still young and weak shoulders. However, she manages to do it so well that you cannot complain. Not to mention, Doga Zeynep Doguslu as Nur, Elit Iscan as Ece, Tugba Sunguroglu as Selma, Ilayda Akdogan as Sonay are simply spectacular, making this film worthy of watching all over again. Their passion for freedom, their expectation of a life is so high that when you see how their little dream falls apart, you find yourself taking it personally.
Overall, “MUSTANG” is an outstanding film about a society that cares about ancient rules more than anything else. The society, that can easily cross the line if it is necessary to justify their barbaric action. Filmmaker Deniz Gamze Ergüven is brave enough to highlight such a sensitive subject, where some part of her country appears in a negative way. But a true filmmaker never seeks an easy subject to tell, and “MUSTANG” is certainly of the toughest ones.
opens January 15 in Toronto (Bell Lightbox)!
The film opens January 22 in Vancouver,
January 29 in Montreal and throughout the winter in other cities.