Set in a picturesque village in Turkey, Mustang is a dark and tragic story about growing up in a society that rejects modern Western culture. Mustang is the first feature film directed by Deniz Gamze Erguven, and is based on her own experiences growing up in Turkey, inspired by incidents that happened in her own family and home.
The film centres around five sisters, who, having lost their parents, grow up under the close eye of their uncle, grandmother and other family members. The carefree spirit of the sisters lands them in trouble right from the beginning: after playing at the beach, they are accused of rubbing against some boys and are shamed by their family. The sisters are stripped of their modern possessions – fashionable clothes, televisions and phones – and forced instead to gain skills to become quiet, respectable wives. As they fall deeper into a cycle of emotional and physical abuse, some begin to act out, with devastating consequences.
The audience follows the journey of Lale, the youngest of the five. Lale is smart and fiercely loyal to her sisters; she does not adapt well to her uncle’s renovations on their home or the new conservative lifestyle they are being forced to lead. Through Lale’s eyes the audience watches as her eldest sisters are married off to suitable men, leaving the younger three to feel the tightening grip of the family. Befriending a young man Yasin, Lale plans her escape to Istanbul by learning to drive in his van.
Mustang is a heartfelt, emotional journey about youth, the close bond of sisters and the evil side of family pride. The beautiful cinematography and amazing casting – especially of the sisters – makes this a film a definite must-see. A melancholic but hopeful ending rounds off the proceedings perfectly. The delicate and warm moments of self-expression and love outweigh the bleak and, quite honestly, shocking ones. The result? A relevant and subtle debut from Erguven, a film made with the purpose of more than just enjoyment, and a treat to watch.
Mustang is released in selected cinemas on 13th May 2016
Watch the trailer for Mustang here: