4.5 stars
Mustang, the directorial debut of Turkish director Deniz Gamze Ergüven, has quickly garnered a number of awards including an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film.
Set in a village in northern Turkey, the film opens with a carefree group of sisters celebrating the start of their school summer holidays by splashing around in the surf with a bunch of schoolboys. Their joy is short-lived when a nosey neighbour reports their ‘illicit’ behaviour to their imperious grandmother and their possessive uncle - who became their guardians when their parents were killed in an accident. It is at this point when, “… everything turns to shit” in the girls’ lives. They are imprisoned in the family home and forced to wear conservative shapeless frocks and endure endless housework lessons so that they can learn to be ‘good wives.’

Their domineering guardians set up meetings for arranged marriages and the girls are literally cut off from the outside world as their computers and telephones are locked away. The youngest sibling, feisty Lale (Günes Sensoy), bears witness to all these changes and fights against the wrongs she sees being perpetrated on her sisters. She even yells at the neighbour who dobbed them in for their innocent fun and attempts to burn their furniture, saying it must be contaminated too as, “… our arseholes have sat on the chairs.”

You become completely immersed in the girls’ dilemma as they struggle to come to terms with their terrible situation which tests their unity and resilience. The girls are all excellent, especially Sensoy. She is a delight who particularly shines when taking driving lessons from a local lad who becomes her ally. Her performance enforces the simple innocence of their youth and the small-mindedness of the elders’ approach to their burgeoning sexuality.

Mustang - winner of the FOXTEL Movies Audience Award for Best Feature at the Sydney Film Festival - is a film that is both heart-breaking and uplifting and is a wonderful feminist panegyric.


Previewed at Sony Pictures Theatrette, Sydney, on 6 June 2016.

Günes Sensoy
Doga Zeynep Doguslu
Tugba Sunguroglu

Deniz Gamze Ergüven

Deniz Gamze Ergüven
Alice Winocour


Turkey / France / Qatar / Germany (subtitles)


96 minutes

June 23, 2016
Mustang (2015) on IMDb
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