The story of the relationship between Karamakate, an Amazonian shaman and last survivor of his people, and two scientists who work together over the course of forty years to search the Amazon for a sacred healing plant.
In a Russian coastal town, Kolya is forced to fight the corrupt mayor when he is told that his house will be demolished. He recruits a lawyer friend to help, but the man's arrival brings further misfortune for Kolya and his family.
Early summer. In a village in northern Turkey, Lale and her four sisters are walking home from school, playing innocently with some boys. The immorality of their play sets off a scandal that has unexpected consequences. The family home is progressively transformed into a prison; instruction in homemaking replaces school and marriages start being arranged. The five sisters who share a common passion for freedom, find ways of getting around the constraints imposed on them.Written by
Festival de Cannes
'Mustang' is the (2016) Oscar Nominated foreign film out of Turkey. It's received quite a bit of recognition, being called one of the most timely films to have released in the past couple of years. While, I can't deny that statement, I also can't quite get on board with it. The film follows five young women who are all being raised by their Grandmother. One day they are playing harmlessly in the ocean with a couple of guys and someone sees them. She doesn't see what they are doing as harmless and goes to the Grandmother about it. After this their life makes a complete 180 and their old fashioned Uncle takes over caring for them. He turns the house into a prison of sorts and beings marrying them off one by one. If you can't already tell, the message that the film is pushing is the oppression of women in Turkey. It shows that, in many cases, care takers can be very cruel with little repercussions. It was frustrating to watch to say the least.
This is brought to life with grace by first time director Deniz Gamze Ergüven. It's quite miraculous how much control she seems to have over the entire production. Even more impressive is her direction over the main five girls. All of which have never been in a film like this before.
Which is all the more impressive considering how excellent their performances end up being. Each one really brings their character to life with superb energy. If you didn't know any better it would be easy to say that these girls seem to legitimately be sisters. The scenes where they all share the screen captures their us against them mentality extremely well.
While I knew how much praise this film was receiving I still came out fairly surprised at how technically impressive it was. Again, considering how many first timers where on board this film is something of a miracle. Everything from the production design to the cinematography is very well done.
However, the films script is not nearly as strong as the rest of the movie. It unfortunately puts its characters second to its message. All but one or two characters are blank slates that could have been exchanged at any time and I probably would not have noticed. Even the characters that get some development aren't interesting enough to drive the films slower moments.
Of which, there are many. The majority of acts one and two feel like excessive set up for the conclusion. Through the first hour of the film I felt like nothing really mattered to anything. It's full of plot conveniences that make everything fall flat. Like when the girls run away to attend a soccer game and some how manage to get on TV at the exact moment that their grandmother was watching. And even more convenient, their Uncle somehow didn't see them.
It's hard to get invested into a story that doesn't feel like it matters. And, to make things worse, it takes its strong message and decides to shove it in our faces. A once (mostly) subtle message is taken to the extreme when sexual assault comes into play. After that point there was nothing about the story that was interesting or new. It felt like something that was on a studio check list. Something that had to be in the movie or it wasn't going to be made. And it made the film turn from a "timely" film into a standard one.
It wastes it's great cast and crew with a story that doesn't do anything good. Its characters are relatively flat, the story isn't anything new, and its message is taken to an unnecessary, irrational extreme for little to no reason. As hard as it tries too, nothing in my life is going to change because of this film. In fact, it's so blah, that I will most likely forget about within a few days.
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