For Reel

Mustang (2015)
March 16, 2016, 9:24 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Deniz Gamze Ergüven
3 Stars
MustangOn the first day of summer vacation, five teenage sisters venture down to the beach and engage in a playful frolic with young men, enjoying the joys and freedoms promised to them once school is out of session. Shortly thereafter, however, the girls are scandalized for having rubbed their privates on boys’ necks (occurring as they engaged in a piggyback fight), and their controlling uncle (Ayberk Pekcan) locks them up and soon begins to marry them off. The way that Mustang confronts its feminist themes is not unlike a fairy tale–involving beautiful women locked in a tower, under tyrannical control, and eventually finding a hero in a local truck driver who is sympathetic to their cause. But Mustang offers very little of the curiosity that a fairy tale would conjure in its presentation. The girls’ captivity is poorly demonstrated, instead with director Deniz Gamze Ergüven lingering on their half-naked images and finding joy in their various escapes to the outside world. Ironically, this is a low stakes discussion of imprisonment because rebellion always seems within arm’s reach–if the joy of seeing the girls have fun on their own might be justification for the story, it doesn’t create either the sense of dramatic suspense of even the feminist fervor that the film has the potential to evoke. Just as problematic is that the girls are more or less interchangeable, and rather than providing anything of substance regarding the uncle’s patriarchal sociopathy, the film further goes down the melodramatic rabbit hole and turns him into an increasingly caricatured monster.

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