Mustang

LetterboxD review link

Mustang, a directorial debut from Turkish born French director Deniz Gamze Ergüven is a soulful, beautifully written and shot coming of age story that is sure to burrow its way into viewers’ brains for a while. Comparisons to Sofia Coppola’s Virgin Suicides are both apt and incomplete. Coppola was working from source material that was familiar to her, but this film feels far more grounded in reality and far more political. Ergüven has created a film that indicts society in the starkest of terms. The lives of girls are difficult, and they are made much more difficult because institutions like patriarchy, religion, tradition, sexual policing, etc.

The introduction of uncle Erol’s worst vice, in the third act of the film, is likely to be a divisive one. It didn’t bother me as much, but I can see why some viewers might think its a step too far. In my experience, though, power corrupts in lots of ways, and anger and violence are almost just the tip of the iceberg. I didn’t have a hard time believing that he might go as far as he did in abusing the girls, given what he had done already.

But the film is not about him, or even the grandmother for that matter. This film is about the girls. And they are magnificent, one after another. Each actress brought a special mix of emotion, understanding and history to her character. Lale, in particular, made for a great protagonist.

Mustang is a great film. It deserves to be seen, promoted and discussed.