'Mustang' film review: Rebellious coming of age drama inspires
The timely Turkish drama "Mustang" (which screened at AFI FEST 2015 and opens in theaters nationwide Dec. 25) is a powerful and touching indictment of systemic and cultural subjugation -- and an inspiring tale of rebellion and preserving identity.
In short: When five orphaned Turkish sisters innocently play with boys at the beach one afternoon, their acts are taken as indecent. Their adopted parents decide the sisters must be married off - in a series of arranged marriages - to save their girls' honor. (Watch the trailer)
It's impossible not to be outraged by the various ways the sisters are reduced to objects and second-class citizens. When the fully-clothed sisters play with some boys at a beach after school, they are beat and called whores. From there, the sisters only suffer increasing cultural inequities - ranging from a "virginity report" to a distressing obsession with the girls' propriety.
The beauty and brilliance of "Mustang" is it tells a universal story of oppression. While it takes places in a specific modern day country town influenced by a specific religion - this story about have taken place in any number of countries throughout recent history. It's easy to attack the specific religion and customs of this one Turkish village -- but the general themes of rebellion amid cultural oppression make it impossible not to root for the sisters.
Final verdict: This drama ranks among the best foreign films of 2015 and is one of the best coming-of-age stories in years.
"Mustang" opens in theaters Dec. 25 and is rated PG-13 for mature thematic material, sexual content and a rude gesture.