Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s debut feature Mustang follows five orphaned girls whose flowering sexuality prompts their domestic confinement, as well their inevitable fixed marriages. The sisters, although initially functioning as a single unit or something reminiscent of a nerve system, quickly bloom as individuals, making it all the more difficult to see each one go. While it merely scratches the surface of this phenomenon, its wide-eyed and sun-speckled portrayal of the repressive environment in which they are penned in is handled with such love and sentiment that it’s hard to fault.
See, the male perspective (or, the “male gaze”, as some may refer to) is completely AWOL within the establishment of this film. The girl’s trust in Ergüven – as a director, and as a visionary – is so apparent, and so instrumental in the unpretentious chemistry between the central protagonists that it is almost a character in and of itself. While the adversaries only see the girls in black and white, we embrace them in full color. Not once are these lines blurred, nor is it ever intended for us to identify with the opposing forces. The first-time director insures that they’re the focal point, and it is from their frame of reference that we take in each event.
Granted, I have yet to see The Virgin Suicides, and am therefore unable to draw characteristics that distinguish each film from the other, the condescending title that has been forced upon it due to its predecessor undermines the gravity of its themes, alongside its many achievements. Akin to more of a surrealist fairytale with grounded motives than just a Turkish interpretation of Sofia Coppola’s breakthrough, Mustang most definitely stands on its own two feet. Albeit, I have yet to figure out whether my taking to it is mainly due to tangible liking or just sheer admiration for the girls, because oh my god, the girls – the powerful performances from the pre-dominantly female cast leads to a rewarding viewing all in itself.
By Kassandra Karlstrom
When she’s not chowing down on dumplings or sleeping for twelve consecutive hours, eighteen year old Kassandra is most likely marathoning Rick and Morty in the comfort of her own abode in Swedenland. That, or swooning over the works of Don Hertzfeldt whose World of Tomorrow is up to par with her other favorite picture, 12 Angry Men. Follow her @krlstrm.