Five orphaned sisters are being raised in a village in northern Turkey by their kind if bewildered grandmother and their hypocritical, abusive uncle.
All the girls try with varied strategies to push back against their repressive imprisonment by the uncle and against the limited opportunities offered to women in the general culture. Together they are a rambunctious, tight-knit posse, slowly unraveled by the prison of their gender. The youngest girl, still pre-pubescent, is the strongest fighter, initiating most of their rebellions.
Forced marriage, virginity tests, restrictions on colors and styles of clothes, exclusion from education, and outright family rape make up their constrained circumstances. Nonetheless, the girls manage to maintain a stunning level of loving intimacy. Their solidarity is only matched by their playfulness.
The woman director/writer Deniz Gamze Ergüven has given us an astonishing debut film, with rich performances by the actors. It is crammed with the life of girls, which may explain why it has been nominated for a Foreign Language Film Oscar. Because Mustang is dense with content and relationships, it’s important not to miss the beginning of the film and to stay focused throughout.
Trigger warning: There is violence but it is off-screen. I don’t see films with violence against women, but I’d like to see this one again.
Very highly recommended. Here's the trailer: