Monday Night Film Series: Mustang

Category: movies 1,118

mustang_xlgposterDeniz Gamze Erguven
Turkish with English subtitles
97 minutes
Principal Cast: Günes Sensoy, Doga Zeynep Doguslu, Elit Iscan

Early summer. In a village in northern Turkey, Lale and her four sisters are walking home from school, playing innocently with some boys. The immorality of their play sets off a scandal that has unexpected consequences. The family home is progressively transformed into a prison; instruction in homemaking replaces school and marriages start being arranged. The five sisters who share a common passion for freedom, find ways of getting around the constraints imposed on them.

But their cheerful energy turns to dismay as their strict grandmother ushers them into their house on a hill. Informed by a villager who saw them cavorting on the beach, she fears the girls’ virtue and their marriage prospects have been tarnished. Her hysteria is fanned by the angry reaction of their Uncle Erol. Despite the sisters’ vehement denial of any wrongdoing, which is verified by medical examination, they are locked up behind closed doors. Potentially corrupting influences like phones and computers are removed, and they are outfitted in shapeless dung-colored frump dresses for rare outings in the village.

There are mordant echoes here of the five Bennet daughters in Pride and Prejudice, whose mother’s anxiousness to get them married off is a matter of financial rather than moral urgency. However, this is no comedy of manners. The more direct comparison is with the Lisbon sisters in The Virgin Suicides, but those doomed sirens become architects of their own isolation, almost as much as their overprotective parents.

The story’s quiet power comes from its sensitive observation of the characters as normal, emancipated young modern women, with healthy desires and curiosities, whose supposed transgressions are imagined and then magnified in the judgmental minds of others.

Mustang | Monday Night Film Series | Tilley Hall, Room 102, UNB Campus | February 1, 2016 – 7:30pm | See full schedule

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