France's Oscar submission Mustang (previously reviewed) focuses on five orphaned sisters going through adolescence in a Turkish village where hormones are considered to be the ultimate evil. Worried about their reputation, their grandmother decides the best way to care for them is by marrying them off as soon as possible, but the sisters have very little to say in the decisions made for them. They don’t understand why hanging out with boys is wrong, or why they should be married to strangers. Director Deniz Gamze Ergüven, in her feature length debut, tells a revelatory tale of oppression, but for all the hardships on display in the film, she keeps the style playful and fresh, reminding one of what it feels like to be a teenager oblivious or careless of the darkness in the world.
Most impressive of all, is the director’s work with the five actresses playing the sisters - Lale (Günes Sensoy), Sonay (Ilayda Akdogan),Nur (Doga Zeynep Doguslu), Ece (Elit Iscan) and Selma (Tugba Sunguroglu) - who through subtle touches make us believe these young women have always lived together, and have formed an indestructible bond. In a bold, wonderful move Mustang was selected as France’s Foreign Language Film submission for the Oscars, and with the warm response it’s received in festivals all over the world, it might make it all the way to the final five. I spoke to Deniz Gamze Ergüven and was not surprised to realize she’s as smart, refreshing and sincere as her film.