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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

‘Mustang’: A Vibrant and Engrossing Portraiture of Youthful Rebellion from Rural Turkey

Movie poster for the Turkish film Mustang starring Günes Nezihe Sensoy

“Mustang” (2015) is a vibrant portraiture of rural life in a small village in northern Turkey, written and directed by Turkish-French filmmaker Deniz Gamze Ergüven and based on her own troubled adolescence.

The storyline follows young Lale (Günes Nezihe Sensoy) and her four older sisters who have been orphaned as children, thereafter residing with their grandparents in the coastal town of İnebolu. Walking home from school one day, the girls are persuaded to frolic in the lake with a group of eager boys—an act that scandalizes their conservative grandparents and the community at large. Their defiance and burgeoning insubordination leads their elders to engage each of them in a series of arranged marriages in order to suppress their provocative natures, bringing great anguish to Lale, in particular.

An impassioned true-to-life drama, “Mustang” delivers a piercing depiction of youthful rebellion against traditionalism and sectarianism in the 21st Century. It’s a fascinating peek into a rural foreign culture ruled by dogmatic adherence to custom, and ultimately provides a rousing tale of dissension and at least some degree of liberation. It’s a major cinematic achievement and one of the very best foreign-language films of recent years.


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