If ever a film rested in the spaces between its hypenated words it's Mustang, a "comedy-drama" according to the reviews I'd seen. Intrigued by the idea of five sisters being the leads, I went to see it today and emerged shattered. It's comedy if the idea of girls being so oppressed they have to resort to locking themselves in their own home is funny. There are moments of levity, but it is a gruelling watch--part family drama, part suspense thriller, much coming of age awkwardness and a lot of gender oppression. I would recommend it, but a trigger warning would not go amiss.
What is most interesting about the film is the time it takes to let the audience get to know the girls, who live with extended relatives somewhere in Turkey 1,000 km from cosmospolitan Istanbul, the dream destination for anyone who doesn't enjoy living a rigidly controlled life where modern comforts are locked away, lest they lead to degeneration. The youngest, Lale, gradually emerges as the audience's eyes and ears and unexpected heroine as she seeks to escape the constrictions. When she slams a door and announces, "We are playing hard to get!", it's hard not to raise a fist in solidarity. A surefooted debut from director Deniz Gamze Ergüven, Mustang lingers long in the memory.