Take a Drink: for crackdowns
Take a Drink: for rebellions (the chicken or the egg?)
Take a Drink: for football
Do a Shot: for marriages
Do a Shot: for heavy-handed lessons on preserving virginity
By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Three Beers) –
Five orphaned sisters live together with their Grandmother and Uncle in rural Turkey. When the sisters decide to walk on the beach one day, their Grandmother is angered that word has spread that the girls were talking with boys alone. The Uncle is also angry, and they waste no time in barring the girls from leaving home unescorted. The girls are also pulled out of school. From this point forward, their Grandmother and Uncle have decided that the girls are to use all their spare time practicing cooking, cleaning, and sewing, in preparation to marry them off one by one. As the girls begin to be introduced to “marriageable” boys they begin to rebel in their own ways. Matters worsen, though, as the Grandmother & Uncle tighten their grip, even to the point of welding bars on the windows and fortifying the house to prevent the girls from leaving, forgetting that teenage girls can find a gap in the tightest security system if it means going out at night to see boys…
Mustang features a solid cast of performers. All five of the girls bring their own specific characters to the picture, and genuinely act like sisters would act together. As their guardians begin imposing stricter and stricter rules, they begin to work together to find new ways to break them. It is a war of the wills between an old guard of conservatives vs. modern enlightened values. Their Grandmother and Uncle fight against this unity by breaking the girls apart one by one.
The film is artfully shot, reflecting the open freedom the girls enjoy when they are not under the thumb of their guardians, and the claustrophobic grasp of the home in which they are detained.
The soundtrack, by Warren Ellis, in his first score sans-Nick Cave, perfectly reflects the tragedy of the girl’s situation, as well as the quickly fading time as one by one their sisters enter marriage or worse.
Some of the movie’s story elements are trampled by a sometimes confusing narrative. Perhaps this was a fault of the subtitles, or some cultural aspect that doesn’t translate well to Western audiences, but some of the decisions made by certain characters, as well as some of the events that occur, are not clearly explained. Fortunately, the ensemble cast is stellar, and keeps the sometimes uneven storytelling at bay with totally natural performances.
The film goes out of its way to present the five girls in uncomfortable sexual situations for their age. Some scenes and themes explored are deeply uncomfortable to watch, and sensitive subjects overall. At times, some of these scenes feel more exploitive than purposeful in telling the story. I doubt that director Deniz Gamze Ergüven intended this, but the intention doesn’t change the results.
A moving drama about the ways young women are denigrated by sexist traditions and backwards customs. Mustang has an important story to tell, which should be taken to heart (not that the people who’d benefit from this movie would see it).