Mustang is a 2015 Turkish drama film directed by Deniz Gamze Erguven. It is one of the major foreign films of the year and, although not great, it’s still pretty good.
It follows five young sisters in a remote Turkish village. It shows the difficulties of growing up in a conservative society. This subject matter is very important, there is no doubt about it. And I liked what they did with it for the most part. The film is meaningful and dramatic while also being very realistic and relatable. I loved the ending as well and found it quite satisfying, though a bit rushed. Also, the middle parts are definitely the finest as the first act has its problems.
Those problems for me were the somewhat unrealistic portrayal of these girls. Their sexual drive was not just overly emphasized, but definitely a bit unrealistic as I do not think they are older than 12 or maybe 13. And that is the problem with the film. I think that they should have made the girls a bit older and it would have been much more believable and much more powerful.
Another problem Mustang has is the character development. You never really get to know these girls which is very unfortunate. But I think that the problem lies in their number. If they went with three instead of five sisters, they would have been better developed. This is again a poor choice from the filmmakers. However, the girls are still far from bad as most of them get their moments and are mostly realistically depicted. And although unlikable at first, they get much more likable as the movie progresses. And their grandmother is also grounded in reality as are all of the other characters.
The acting is really good with most of the actors doing a very good job. But the girls themselves are stupendous and this is a great instance of very good child acting. Mustang is also really well directed with Deniz Amze Erguven emerging as a real talent. It is also well shot and overall very well made. I liked the three-act structure as well as the film has a distinct beginning, middle and end part. It is also well paced and never boring. It is also rarely rushed, despite a couple of abrupt moments. And the running time is suitable for this story. The score is okay, but could have been better. And the dialogue is mostly really good. I wish it was more emotional, but Mustang is still so well crafted and so inherently relevant and important that it is almost a required viewing. It reminds you how women are still treated poorly in many countries of the world and how that problem is huge and still exists. You feel for the characters and you root for them which is a testament to good filmmaking. It is a neat little film that benefits from such a professional and well crafted approach, but is hurt by a couple of weaker choices. It isn’t on my top of the list of foreign films of the year, but it is still definitely quite good and certainly worth a watch.