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TIFF 2015 Review: Mustang

Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s lush film Mustang succeeds especially well as an idea, a challenging, an uprising of repressive Turkish atmosphere towards Turkish sexuality. As a film, though, there appears to be something missing in the translation from page to screen.

The largest complaint to be lodged against Mustang, at least in terms of the dreamy aspect of the production would be for Ergüven to keep the camera absolutely steady at all times. The allowance of naturalism and a sense of cinéma verité in a non-documentary makes the film feel like it often loses its way. The five actresses are willing and game, (though their characters often become interchangeable) and the similarity of their looks, save for the youngest one, makes for the feeling of a Greek Chorus. This characterization believes is unwelcome in a Turkish film, even one as damning of societal expectations as this one.

Ergüven and French auteur Alice WInocour’s script captures the sense of hysteria present in a repressive society. The women are first confined to the house because of some improper activity at the beach, where they supposedly tried to pleasure themselves by climbing on the shoulders of the boys. But a side trip to an all-female audience of a soccer match feels forced, and worse, unrealistic. The scenes in the soccer stadium are obviously manipulated.

Again, In a film set about finding truth, the filmmaker should have not interfered and instead let the images onscreen tell the story.

[star v=3]