A village in Turkey’s north sees Lale and her sisters innocently playing with boys after school. Their games begin to cause scandal as the family home becomes stricter with classes on housework and cooking instead of going to school and marriages become arranged. The sister must fight for their freedom. Courtesy: YouTube/Cohen Media Group
Director: Deniz Gamze Ergüven (feature debut)
Starring: Günes Sensoy, Doga Zeynep Doguslu, Elit Iscan, Tugba Sunguroglu, Ilayda Akdogan.
Pride, and prejudiced against
THIS spirited, haunting and genuinely engrossing drama was a thoroughly deserving (and in hindsight, most unlucky) Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee earlier this year.
The setting is a house sitting on the leafy fringes of a small rural community in northern Turkey, where five teenage sisters are living with their grandmother.
Ranging in age from 12 to 17, the siblings are, at worst, a mildly rebellious bunch.
They don’t own a phone or have access to the internet, but they know their pop culture as fashion trends as well as any of their peers.
Boys notice them whenever they are out and about, and often, the girls are not afraid to notice them right back.
However, the strict cultural edicts that control the behaviour of young women in the region are literally closing in on this tight-knit quintet from all sides.
Every time one of them misbehaves, another lock is bolted to a door, and another window is barred up. Shopping privileges are withdrawn. Even going for a swim at the height of a very hot summer is out of the question.
The youngest of the group, 12-year-old Lale (Gunes Sensoy) soon becomes the most determined to escape the prison that is slowly being erected around them.
However, with her grandmother rapidly arranging marriages for her older sisters, Lale is also fast running out of co-conspirators.
Though the film exudes the curiously floating feel of an ethereal fairytale, there is a fierce feminist intellect at Mustang’s core that speaks to the sustained oppression of women everywhere.
The subtly atmospheric cinematography, a moving music score by Australian-born violinist Warren Ellis and the natural, unforced performances of the young leads are all touched with the same deceptive, dangerous beauty.
Time and time again, the viewer is lulled into forgetting the ugly reality that awaits each of these young women purely because of their gender.
A near-masterpiece from first-time writer-director Deniz Gamze Erguven.