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"Mustang" Movie Review

"Mustang" (2015)

Photo courtesy of Cohen Media Group

Sisters Lale (Günes Sensoy), Nur (Doga Zeynep Doguslu), Selma (Tugba Sunguroglu), Ece (Elit Iscan), and Sonay (Ilayda Akdogan) are orphans, living with their grandmother (Nihal G. Koldas) and uncle (Ayberk Pekcan). It's the last day of school and after a rather tearful good-bye to Lale's favorite teacher, the girls decide to walk home. Along the way, they meet some boys and head to the beach. The girls and boys play innocently in the water,  at one point the girls climbing on the boy's shoulders to play a game of chicken fight.

The girls head for home and a greeted by their angry grandmother, who has heard from a neighbor that the girls have been behaving inappropriately with boys. The grandmother takes each girl into a room to see if they all have their womanhood still intact. Their uncle comes home, learns of what he believes could be a major transgression and takes all of them to a hospital to suffer the further humiliation of being examined by a doctor for proof they have not been violated.

Mustang photo 1
Photo courtesy of Cohen Media Group

The uncle with the help of friends and neighbors, decide that the girls need more supervision. The women of the neighborhood begin teaching the girls how to cook the local cuisine, and all the girls are made very drab, long sleeved dresses to replace their more modern clothes. The grandmother takes away any item in the house that might "tempt them," removing their computer and their phones. The uncle forbids them to leave the house and commands them to stay away from any boy who comes by. Soon the uncle and grandmother are having prospective husbands for the girls come by with their families. It's apparent that the uncle is determined to marry off the girls as soon as possible and break up the girls from their little family.

Director / co-writer  Deniz Gamze Erguven brings to the screen a tale that treats its subjects with caring touch, dealing with the subject of repression, but never quite delivers the emotional punch that you want. The film spends a considerable amount of time on the confinement of the girls and their various attempts to escape the home, as each attempt brings more barriers to the home, such as bars on the windows and locking gates, creating a prison from what once was a home. We spend too much time following the girls around the house as they try to fend off boredom, playing silly games. I did enjoy an attempt by the girls to travel to a nearby city to attend a soccer match that only women are able to attend. They miss the bus and talk a produce delivery driver to drive them far enough to catch up with the bus. The joy on Lale's face (the one true soccer fan of the group) as they dance in the stands cheering on their team is fun and one of few scenes where the girls are happy. But the scene is brought down by an attempt of humor when the girls are caught on camera and the grandmother tries to do everything to turn off the power in the town so that the men don't see the girls on TV. The scene is clumsily done and not funny.

Mustang photo 2
Photo courtesy of Cohen Media Group

I did like the cast, especially Günes Sensoy, who plays the youngest, the headstrong Lale. Sensoy brings believability to her role that she is determined to find a way to escape a life that she doesn't want to live. Fortunately, as the film goes along, the movie more and more centers on Sensoy's character, helping the film pick up a little speed near the end of the movie. Even so, this film feels far longer than its 97 minutes running time, and you come away with the feeling that we never really got to know the girls. All we know is that most of the girls don't want to be forced into marriage at such an early age.   We never got to find out their hopes and dreams, what they wanted to do with their lives. If we had, it would have made the film a much richer viewing experience.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee 

My movie rating system from Best to Worst:  1). I Would Pay to See it Again  2). Full Price  3). Bargain Matinee  4). Cable  5). You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again

"Mustang" is playing exclusively at Landmark Midtown Art Cinema

"Mustang" Website

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