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Wednesday, Dec 23 2015

France's entry into the Academy Awards, Deniz Gamze Ergüven's debut filmMustangis an often-harrowing look at the subjugation of girls in present-day Turkey as they're groomed to become "proper" women. The girls in question are five sisters — Sonay (Ilayda Akdogan), Lale (Günes Sensoy), Nur (Doga Zeynep Doguslu), Selma (Tugba Sunguroglu), Ece (Elit Iscan) — who, after being spied frolicking innocently and fully clothed at a nearby seashore with boys from school, are put under house arrest by their uncle(Ayberk Pekcan) andgrandmother (Nihal G. Koldas), the latter of whom checks their hymens. Maidenhead status is a recurring theme; when Selma is married off against her will and fails to bleed on her wedding night, she's taken to the hospital so a doctor can confirm her virginity.Mustangoften evokes another debut film, Sofia Coppola'sThe Virgin Suicides, particularly in its portrait of a teenage girls banding together against parents and a world that would split them apart and rob them of their humanity. But whereVirgin Suicideswas an idealized period piece with a male-gaze point of view,Mustangis about practices that carry on to this day. But it's not without hope, as the energy and determination of the sisters suggests that change will occur, whether the old guard wants it or not.


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Sherilyn Connelly


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