REVIEW: Mustang

2 01 2016

MustangDeniz Gamze Ergüyen’s “Mustang” tells the story of five orphaned sisters trying to girls when the societal forces around them are conspiring to turn them into women. In their oppressively provincial Turkish town, the overwhelming sentiment becomes that each sister needs to be married off for their own sake. After a harmless incident with some local boys, their reputation could forever become that of harlots if not wrangled into polite deference.

Ergüyen, along with co-writer Alice Winocour, nicely illustrate just how old-fashioned assumptions and attitudes towards women are in the girls’ milieu. Be it voices on the radio demonizing working mothers or the concept that a legitimate punishment for a soccer team could involve playing a game in front of a solely female crowd, misogyny abounds in their northern Turkey community. With all due respect to “Mad Max: Fury Road,” I think “Mustang” may just be the 2015 release that best exposes the stifling hegemony of patriarchal power.

Perhaps it is just the nature of reading subtitles, but these larger structures and institutions limiting the sisters feel presented with very little subtlety. The sexism and outdated customs become so obvious that it makes their rebellion a rather obvious development. They also take up so much attention throughout “Mustang” that it depersonalizes the girls, making them better as instruments to illuminate important themes than as deeply realized human characters. B2halfstars