Mustang centres on Lale (Günes Sensoy), a young girl growing up with her sisters, and living with their grandmother and uncle, both being particularly harsh on them after having looked after them for 10 years, the grandmother (Nihal G Koldas) shown initially for doing so because she’s overcompensating for losing her sons, many years ago.
To that extent, she’s turned the house into a ‘wife factory’ for the girls, making them wear “shapeless, sh -it coloured dresses” in a bid to lose their individuality and prepare all the girls to start getting married off once they become old enough, beginning with Sonay (Ilayda Akdogan). But before she and her beau, Osman (Erol Afsin), get together, the process requires the consent of both families.
This is clearly a very male-dominated environment where the men rule and the women must be subservient. Hence, when Lale wants to attend a football match, nasty uncle Erol (Ayberk Pekcan) tells her no because of the last time when a load of men caused a pitch invasion and she could get trampled in the rush. Ironically, that leads to the next match being women-only and, in turn, is when Lale and her sisters meet truck driver Yasin (Burak Yigit).
I don’t know anything about Turkish culture, but based on what I’ve learned from this film, Turks demand they marry virgins, so when there’s no blood on the sheet after a new bride doesn’t bleed, there’s hell to pay. Such scenes go to highlight the absurdities of religious practices, but then, to me, all religion is absurd.
The elders in this coming-of-age drama have clearly forgotten what it was like to be a child and the film certainly gives you a lot to think about and will have you looking up more information about the film and culture afterwards, especially when the initial lightness of innocence turns to head towards dark scenes and a tinge of tragedy.
As an aside, at one of the engagement parties, one of the younger girls is shown going round the room drinking any remains of alcoholic beverages. Presumably, she’s not allowed a full glass of her own, but I once knew a guy at Uni who used to do this. Bleah!
Overall, Mustang is a very interesting film, but isn’t quite the gripping film I was expecting based on everything I’d read about it.
The film is presented in the original 2.35:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition and is as pin-sharp as you’d expect, bringing the stunning scenery of both Kastamonu and Istanbul in Turkey blistering with gloriousness in front of your eyes. They look like incredible places to visit and it’s heartbreaking that, in recent times, terrorists are derailing the entire country with their despicable actions.
The audio is in DTS HD 5.1. This is a drama, so the audio is less about sound bouncing all around the speakers so, apart from the football match – which fills the speakers, albeit not with any directional sound – there’s a gorgeous score from Warren Ellis, which was highlighted in a recent Kermode Uncut vlog, Mustang Music, below.
The extras are brief, but are as follows:
- Short Film: Bir Damla Su (Une Goutte D’eau) – A Drop Of Water (18:51): The film is presented in a windowboxed 16:9 ratio, so you’d think you could zoom it in to almost fill your TV, but the subtitles are placed below it so unless you can speak French and Turkish…
This centres around an engagement party between a young couple, so not too disimilar to Mustang itself, but at one point, another man and woman are mouthing words at each other across the room, but because they’re not subtitled and they’re not mouthing English, I haven’t the first idea what either of them are saying. What follows is a brief but interesting tale about lost love.
- Director’s Fortnight Interview (6:59): This interview with director Deniz Gamze Ergüven was filmed at Cannes, and she talks about the movie and what it means to her, including the importance of casting the five girls in the film such that they’d work brilliantly together as a group.
- Trailer (1:43): In the original 2.35:1 widescreen ratio.
The menu mixes clips from the film against a short piece of the main theme, there are a bog-standard 12 chapters to the movie (I prefer one every five minutes, so that would equate to 20, in this case), and there are subtitles in English.
Running time: 97 minutes
Released: July 11th 2016
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (ProRes 4:4:4 (2K))
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Deniz Gamze Ergüven
Producer: Charles Gillibert
Screenplay: Deniz Gamze Ergüven and Alice Winocour
Music: Warren Ellis
Lala: Günes Sensoy
Nur: Doga Zeynep Doguslu
Selma: Tugba Sunguroglu
Ece: Elit Iscan
Sonay: Ilayda Akdogan
The Grandmother: Nihal G Koldas
Erol: Ayberk Pekcan
Dilek: Bahar Kerimoglu
Yasin: Burak Yigit
Osman: Erol Afsin
Aunt Hanife: Suzanne Marrot
The Great-Aunt: Serife Kara
Aunt Emine: Aynur Komecoglu
Erin: Sevval Aydin
Ekin: Enes Sürüm
Osman’s Father: Aziz Komecoglu
Osman’s Father / Petek’s Neighbour: Serpil Reis
Osman’s Mother: Rukiye Sariahmet
Ekin’s Father: Kadir Celebi
Ekin’s Mother: Müzeyyen Celebi
Gynaecologist: Tuncer Kumcular
Boy in the Car: Aykut Karatay
Uncle Seref: Ercan Köksal
Petek Hanim: Serpil Ucar
Riffle Man: Hüseyin Baysal
Dilek’s Boyfriend: Utku Zeka
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.