Riding on the wave of its critical success, the Oscar-nominated Mustang will be screened in UK theatres (in cities such as London, Oxford and Edinburgh, among others) starting May 13. If you’re feeling a bit lazy, there are also options for watching the film at home beginning on the same date. Regardless of how you see it, this debut feature film from the French-Turkish writer and director Deniz Gamze Ergüven is not to be missed.
Told from the perspective of young Lale and her four older sisters, Mustang weaves a coming-of-age tale wherein societal pressure and familial rule determine the trajectory of these girls’ lives. Set in an insular village community on the Black Sea coast, the film documents the sisters’ lockdown in the family’s large, wooden home after innocent games with local boys are misinterpreted and cause a scandal within the community. No longer allowed to attend school, the girls take lessons on how to be good wives – they learn the best way to roll yaprak sarma, among other necessary skills – and are married off in quick succession. There’s a spanner thrown into the works, as you'd expect, but I won’t spoil the ending for you.
Watch the trailer below:
The film was well received on the festival circuit and won the approval of several international critics: Jordan Hoffman at The Guardian calls it a ‘sweet, sad Turkish delight’, while Lenika Cruz at The Atlantic describes it as ‘a tender and fresh coming-of-age film’. In Turkey the film’s reception was more lukewarm. As Kaya Genç writes in the Los Angeles Review of Books, ‘many in Turkey, both from the left and the right, have complained about the film’s perceived orientalism’, in particular the different accents of the girls and their captors. In Women’s eNews, Jennifer Hattam explores whether the portrayal of child brides and family dynamics in the film is an accurate reflection of the current situation in Turkey.
When a film provokes such a diverse set of reactions, the best thing to do is plop yourself down and watch it – it’s the only way to join the conversation. So, UK residents, book your tickets today.
Click here for information on screening times and to purchase tickets.