Mustang (2015) – Ace Mini-Review

Starring: Günes Sensoy, Nihal G. Koldas, Ayberk Pekcan
Written by: Deniz Gamze Ergüven, Alice Winocour
Directed by: Deniz Gamze Ergüven
France/Germany/Turkey/Qatar, 2015

How good is this movie?

Ever think of a piggy-back as one person rubbing their genitals against another person’s spine? I sure hadn’t, and neither have the five school-aged sisters who, after an afternoon horsing around with their male classmates, find themselves confined to their home, forced to learn the art of wifehood, and successively married off. The movie effectively conveys the absurdity and tragedy of the situation, while adding nuance by showing how each girl responds differently to it. It’s formulaic, but it’s well-executed formula.

How ace is this movie?

Sexual repression is the major concern of the film, but this repression is as much about the construction of female sexuality as about its condemnation. The adults consistently impose sexual interpretations on behaviour that the girls consider perfectly normal, while simultaneously pushing them to embrace normative heterosexuality. The sisters are chastised for their provocative clothing and forced into more “modest” dresses – then put on display in order to attract suitors. In contrast, their most liberated moments are the ones spent at home together, dressing however they want, playing make-believe, lying all over each other in a tangle of arms and legs. It is in these scenes, far more than their encounters with boys, that they are best able to enjoy their bodies in an eroticism that has not yet been sexualised. While the older sisters do clearly have their own sexuality, the story is mostly told through the eyes of pre-adolescent Lale, whose perspective is similar to an asexual one. Her rebellion is a fight, not to express her own sexuality, but to avoid being sexualised by others, and the freedom she seeks is the freedom of sexual refusal.

3.5 Stars; 4 Aces

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