Mustang Screen 25 articles



Mustang Poster
  • [Mustang] felt forced and—a word typically made redundant by dint of the art form—manipulative. Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s film is told from the perspective of a young girl, one of a handful of cousins held prisoner by their arch-conservative grandmother and uncle. The tween prisoners’ decisions descend into high absurdity, and the cruel facts of life under this particular strand of patriarchal repression are played—and not for lack of success—as much for easy laughs as painful catharsis.

  • France-based director Deniz Gamze Ergüven's blinkered commitment to her theme is ultimately as stifling as the house her five teenage protagonists become imprisoned in, as plausibility and nuance are repeatedly sacrificed on the altar of creating not just a message, but a suitably marketable one. Even when you're locked up, people still like to see a pretty face.

  • Sight & Sound: Nick Pinkerton
    April 29, 2016 | June 2016 Issue (p. 84)

    The film, with its one-dimensional figures of conservative authority, is too narrowly Manichean to allow the troubling ambivalence of multiple perspectives, but at the same time it manages to seem curiously tentative. Part of the problem is that Ergüven pictures liberty more vividly than she does captivity; there is no choking claustrophobia to lend the film an edge of genuine, cornered-animal desperation.

  • All told it’s an understated, undemanding journey, and if the worst one can say about a film by a first-time director is that it (not unfavorably) resembles other, better films, then that bodes well for Ergüven’s future.

  • Ergüven is remarkably tonally surefooted, navigating sections of remarkable peril and threat to the young women with a potentially flippant lightness of tone that emphasizes sisterly solidarity rather than social gloom (without mitigating the importance of the latter). The film floats in unexpected ways through its story, befitting Ergüven’s goal of making a film that steers away from grim naturalism and heads into the realm of the fairy tale.

  • There’s nothing especially original or distinctive in Ergüven’s aesthetic. She gets appealing and fiercely committed performances from the five young actresses at the story’s center, but above all she effectively stokes righteous anger at a situation that admits no clear remedy other than mere escape.

  • There’s no connection [to The Virgin Suicides], apart from that basic narrative similarity. Rather than a gauzy reflection of the past, filtered through the wistful memories of young men, Ergüven’s feature debut focuses entirely on the girls, in the present tense. The result, while less poetic and artful than Eugenides’ book or Coppola’s film, is much more emotionally direct, and pulls off a very tricky balancing act between bemoaning its characters’ fate and celebrating their resilience.

  • A late-movie revelation of sexual abuse seems contrived, but the film is a gripping mix of comedy, tragedy, political anger and, despite everything, hope.

  • There’s a sort of glossy cosmopolitanism to its appeal that makes the film seem not quite convincingly rooted in the world it depicts. Even so, Ergüven shows a directorial brio and a skill for atmospheric intensity that are confident and compelling, and she backs up the theme of female solidarity by making her young actresses so vividly and believably a sibling unit—between them, they have a radiant charisma and a complicity that’s always winning.

  • Ergüven and cowriter Alice Winocour have a keen understanding of teenage impetuosity and adult cruelty, visually and audibly assisted by David Chizallet's fluid rack-focus cinematography and Warren Ellis’s sensuous score.

  • A film equally upsetting and uplifting, concerning battling toxic, ingrained patriarchy in a Turkish village where five sisters’ adolescence comes to spell imprisonment for them at home and/or being married off. An unexpected, typically elegiac contribution to the soundtrack by Warren Ellis works wonders.

  • In a refreshing departure from actuality, Ergüven’s five heroines—teen sisters who resemble Renoir models with their free-flying hair and sunlit sensuality—have the guts to hold their heads high and look those that wrong them right in the eye. Ergüven films their blossoming bodies with the same unyielding energy and liberates her narrative—a skillful blend of tragedy and fable—from genre constraints, crafting her own brand of magical realism instead.

  • Dreading this because of the femi-Message but it's actually great fun, a lively, riotous movie that's also quite fair-minded. The girls aren't victims - it's more like a state of constant warfare - the grown-ups aren't ogres (Grandma's more like Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, just a century out of date) and the culture isn't monolithic, indeed it's a film about Turkey and the way its secular modernity is slowly being encroached upon by Islamist excesses.

  • Ms. Ergüven, who was born in Turkey, brings deft timing and an unapologetic appreciation of beauty to the story, qualities missing from other, schematic portrayals of clashes with traditional mores, Turkish or otherwise. Feather-light camerawork by David Chizallet and Ersin Gok is matched by a nimble screenplay written by Ms. Ergüven with Alice Winocour.

  • Beyond the expertly tense tick-tock-tick-tock of her narrative, Ergüven demonstrates an understanding of what drives these traditions and mores. For Mustang is one of the few films I've seen that also grasps the perverted idealism that lies behind all this forced modesty.

  • Effortlessly energetic and melancholy in equal measure.

  • Mustang is depressing, often extremely funny (Lale screaming at a gossipy judgmental neighbor in her traditional head-scarf: “Hey you, with the shit-brown clothes, who do you think you are? You are SHIT!”) with moments of sheer triumph (the soccer game breakout) and moments of complete despair... An incredible debut. I was a wreck when I left the theatre.

  • Mustang is a sweet and soulful story of five Turkish sisters and their rebellion against the conservative society. The director, Deniz Gamze Erguven, is a Paris-based Turk, who's influenced by both Sofia Coppola's girls-on-pillow aesthetics as much as by Jane Austen.

  • ...It's rare to find a film willing to address these subjects as they pertain to women of these ages. Ergüven's change of tone from light-hearted sisterly moments to the morose is impressive given some of the heavier subject material covered in the film's second half. Reminiscent of Sofia Coppola's THE VIRGIN SUICIDES, MUSTANG is a bold directorial feature debut on the transition from adolescence to womanhood.

  • One glorious sequence shows the sisters sneaking out and hitching a ride to a soccer game open only to female spectators. The girls make the most of this accepted form of expression, and their unbridled joy, stomping in unison with the crowd, a confetti of lights raining down rivals the exuberance of Xavier Dolan’s aspect-ratio-expansion in Mommy and Céline Sciamma’s lip-synching scene Girlhood. No joy in Mustang comes without a price, though, and the scene grips your heart tight.

  • Its demonic energy and radiance: This is what Mustang will be remembered for in the future. All of the big political generalizations people tend to make in relation to this film are clouded by the way Ergüven locks up her wild characters inside the film frame. As the level of their confinement increases, the girls’ struggles for liberation seem all the more touching.

  • The script is a masterclass in lean storytelling. Sorrow is expressed sparingly, and often dashed with a stoic sense of humour. Punchlines are usually an image, enabling the film to keep up the combined momentum of potently pleasurable visuals atop smooth narrative wheels.

  • With its rooted sense of place and community, and rebellious spirit, this is an accomplished and engaging debut. Writer-director Deniz Gamze Ergüven and her co-writer, Alice Winocour, approach the material with a light touch – the most shocking scenes always take place off-camera – and enough humour to deflate the anger that builds on the girls’ behalf.

  • There are direct references to Don Siegel’s [Escape from Alcatraz]... But the influence is deeper than mere allusion. Mustang emulates Siegel’s miraculous style in Alcatraz, a style that overlays a kind of subjective, free indirect discourse cleaving to the main character, onto the “objective” system of rigid surveillance and physical confinement that blocks every move. In other words, Ergüven’s approach embodies in the film the dialectic between Lale’s free spirit and her restricted body.

  • In the midst of last year’s ongoing #OscarsSoWhite debacle, the debut feature from Turkish director Deniz Gamze Ergüven, unfortunately flew under the radar but undoubtedly was one of the most powerful films competing at the 88th Academy Awards. Set against a backdrop of a coastal Turkish village, five orphaned sisters cared for by their grandmother and uncle resist pressures of marriage and appropriate femininity in a stunning coming of age tale.

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