Mustang, a 2015 internationally co-produced drama film with subtitles, directed by Turkish-French film director Deniz Gamze Ergüven about five young orphaned sisters in a remote Turkish village, took me on a journey. It took me back to a time of adolescence, when your imagination took the front seat, and spending playful times with siblings and friends was filled with innocence.
Actors Günes Sensoy (Lale), Doga Zeynep Doguslu (Nur), Tugba Sunguroglu (Selma), Elit Iscan (Ece) and Ilayda Akdogan (Sonay) are the five orphaned siblings that live with their grandmother and uncle in a strict, stifled existence. Made even worse when they are informed upon by a neighbour about their escapades at the beach with boys. They were but innocently playing with their classmates, but because they sat upon the shoulders of the boys, trying to knock each other off into the water, it was frowned upon. They were crudely accused of sexual connotations they were innocently oblivious to.
As cultural norms differ, it was seen as a scandal which shamed their grandmother and uncle, and their life took on the persona of 'wife in training' as the sisters saw it; in literal lock-down. Learning to cook and create and looking for husbands to marry the older siblings became a way of life. Stifled as they were, the sisters took comfort and close sibling companionship in each other as they went through each claustrophobic day creating their own fun and playful times with each other. They dared to push the boundaries in pursuit of freedom from their boring existence and for some, to flee the abhorrent behaviour foisted upon them.
This is a powerful and visually engaging film and actor Günes Sensoy who plays Lale, the youngest sibling, shone like a lighthouse. It'll take you through the joys of innocence, the memories of a time gone by, a few raw moments, the frustrations of the cultural divide that binds and of spirits that refuse to be broken. It's definitely worth going on a ride of emotions this film will evoke. A first feature film directed by Deniz Gamze Ergüven, it has won an accolade of awards, including a nomination as the Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards.
I'd rate this a 'must see', but be warned, it can be raw and gritty, but it'll leave you utterly fulfilled you've experienced a rather engaging, intimate portrait of five sisters, beautiful in their innocence.