- Product Rating -

Art House Asshole : Mustang

| June 2, 2017

You know how when you’re wanting to go to the movie theater and you look up all the films that are showing and there are alway at least three that you’ve never heard of, let alone have any interest in seeing? Well, good news! I’ve seen those movies. I spend most of my theater experiences in art house theaters watching those movies that you’ve never heard of and then never watch. Yeah, I’m that hipster asshole. My goal with this is to spread information out about these films, that way you can decide one of the following. “That actually sounds pretty cool! I want to see that now!” or “Man, I’m glad I decided to go see the new superhero movie!”. So without further ado, here is my article and review of Mustang.

Jeez. This film is a lot more depressing than I thought it would be. I was really hoping this would be the feel good film that I could enjoy about girls being girls and having a good time and growing up. I should have known better, because those kinds of films don’t get nominated for Best Foreign film, nor do they get made honestly. Instead, we have this depressing film about how awful it is to be a girl in Turkey. So yeah. Know that going in because it never gets happy.

Mustang tells the story of five orphan girls living together in a small village in Turkey. Their caregivers are very strict and conservative making their lives not great, and by not great I mean their entire lives revolve around arranged marriage. So we follow the girls as they are married off to a bunch of men they don’t like and are generally miserable. The story is fine honestly. Despite it being about the complex subject of forced marriage, it is actually pretty straight forward and extremely easy to follow. My only issue story-wise is that there are very few traits that distinguish the girls from one another, besides age. I never felt like we got to learn a lot about each individual girl, it always put the story over character development. But that didn’t bother me too much so I can let it slide.

The direction of the film is good if not anything spectacular. The director, Deniz Gamze Ergüven, is a first time directing woman, which is always welcome especially around these parts. The film is put together well even if the film lacks anything special in terms of style. I’ve read that the film is somewhat autobiographical, and if that is the case I can see why the story would come first over the style. I also read that Ergüven directed the entire film while pregnant (eat your heart out Prevenge), so that adds major props to the filmmaker. So if you are looking for a straight forward story this might be up your alley. But ever since the film came out I’ve heard only rave reviews so I was a little disappointed by how standard the film is. But that didn’t bother me too much so I can let it slide.

If I had to say something in the film that is blatantly bad, I would be inclined to point to the cinematography. The cinematography is done by two fairly new DPs and it looks very artificial and fake in certain points. But I wouldn’t call it bad, I would more along the lines call it passable. There were only a few points in the film where the cinematography took me out of the film, one being when they went to the futball game. But other than that it didn’t bother me. It didn’t ever scale into anything worthwhile, but it didn’t bother me too much so I’ll let it slide.

I would say that I’m disappointed by this film, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad per say. I might have gone into the film with much higher of expectations than I should have expected. This and Son of Saul are the only films nominated from this year for Best Foreign Language that I have not seen. And Theeb, A War, and Embrace of the Serpent all have been better than this film. So this film might be the weakest nominee. Which isn’t a bad thing. This is still a very well made and provocative film. The only downside is that the film goes all out with its story to the point where everything else falls by the wayside. It’s a finely put together film and I believe that Ergüven has a bright future ahead of her, but I am more interested in seeing what she does next than watch this film again. Maybe I’m not the target audience, it is a very heavily female based film. But this film ended up just being a bit of a disappointment.

About the Author:

Henry Jarvis is the youngest member of the Reel Nerds. His favorite films include Space Jam and Dude, Where’s My Car? and Lawrence of Arabia. He enjoys those pretentious art house films that Ryan hates. He sees a lot of movies! Honestly more than he should. He replaces his lack of social skills and meaningful friendships with his love of cinema! He’s also crying while he writes this biography for himself. His favorite directors are Andrei Tarkovsky, David Fincher, and David Lean.

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