MUSTANG, and they are, for the most part, utterly crap alternatives -- one worse than the next. And considering that the film has, as its collective heroine, five sisters, all of marriageable age, Mustang proves a treasure trove of anti-fundamentalist messaging. It is also, despite its sometimes sorrowful events, an absolutely thrilling, exhilarating and often joyful experience.
Deniz Gamze Ergüven (shown at left) -- a cosmopolitan young filmmaker born in Turkey and educated in France, South Africa and the USA -- the movie offers yet again a Turkish tale of the evils of fundamentalism and patriarchy, particularly where the female of the species is concerned. We've seen a number of these movies with Turkish settings, from Bliss and The Edge of Heaven to the BFLF Oscar entry, When We Leave and especially last year's surprise The WatchTower. None, however, has had quite the bracing effect of bringing its theme to life as does Ms Ergüven's effort.
Günes Sensoy, who in her film debut, proves remarkably gifted at creating a character named Lale (above), who turns out to be part "Annie" and part "Nancy Drew" but mostly just a decent and believable kid -- raised, as were her sisters, by her grandmother -- who suddenly sees her life turned upside down by an angry fundamentalist uncle with designs, I would guess, on the dowries these five attractive sisters will fetch.
Cohen Media Group, in Turkish with English subtitles and running 97 minutes -- opens this Friday, November 20, in New York City at the IFC Center and the Lincoln Plaza Cinema, and in Los Angels at Laemmle's Royal. Over the weeks to come it will appear in another dozen cities (including, on January 15, the Living Room Theater and the Regal Shadowood here in Boca Raton and the Tower Theater and Miami Beach Cinematheque in Miami; the Cosford Cinema in Coral Gables; at the Regal Hollywood in Naples; the Regal Bell Tower in Ft. Myers; and the Regal Winter Park in Orlando. Click here and scroll down to see all currently scheduled playdates, cities and theaters around the country.