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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Mustang

May 22nd, 2016

Mustang - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Video on Demand


Mustang is a French film set in Turkey. It earned nearly perfect reviews and even picked up an Oscar Nomination. Is it as good as its critical praise? If so, does the Blu-ray do it justice?

The Movie

This is a tough movie to review, because it is a character drama. There's very little world-building and the setup takes almost none of the running time, meaning we hit unacceptable spoilers almost immediately. As Lale says in the opening narration, "... everything changed in the blink of an eye."

We are introduced to Lale has she's saying goodbye to her favorite teacher, who is moving away to Istanbul. She meets up with her four other sisters, Sonay, Selma, Ece, and Nur. It's a beautiful day, so they walk home instead of taking the school bus. Along the way, they and some boys, go to the beach and play in the water and then steal a few apples from a tree. It's harmless fun, except for the part where the owner of the apple trees threatens them with a gun. However, when they get home, they are in a world of trouble. At first they think it is because they stole a couple of apples, but in reality, their grandmother found out from their neighbor, Mrs. Petek, that the girls were rubbing up against boys. You see, while at the beach, they played a game where the girls would sit on the shoulders and try and knock the other sister off. Their grandmother sees this as scandalous behavior.

Things get worse when Oral, their uncle, arrives. The first thing he does is call the three older girls whores and then takes them to the doctor to see if they are still virgins. Next step is to isolate them from the world, taking away the computer, phones, etc. and not letting them return to school. Needless to say, the girls rebel and things escalate and it is decided that they have to be married off, whether they want to get married or not.

I previously reviewed 12 Years a Slave and I can sum up my opinion of that movie in one sentence: I'm glad I saw it, but I never want to watch it again. I feel much the same way with Mustang. I really want to see these five actresses work together in a movie that is this beautifully shot, but doesn't have the oppressive nature this film has. It gets dark in ways I'm not going to spoil.

Of course, the oppressive nature gives Mustang a powerful emotional kick and seeing the girls trying to survive what their family does to them and trying to rise above it is inspirational. This is the first film role for all of the five girls, except for Elit Iscan, who plays Ece. They all have a lot of talent and screen presence. It is their easy charm that lifts up the mood of this movie when it desperately needs it.

The Extras

The only extras on the DVD or Blu-ray are an 8-minute interview with the five stars, plus a 19-minute short film, A Drop of Water, which was also directed by Deniz Gamze Erguven. The Blu-ray also comes with a short pamphlet and a code to download the soundtrack. The soundtrack was definitely an asset, so this is a good bonus.

The Verdict

Mustang is a movie that is about five young girls trying to rise above a patriarchal family and there are many beautiful and uplifting moments in the movie. There are also many oppressive moments and that does hurt the replay value. It is certainly worth checking out and while the DVD or Blu-ray is not loaded with extras, it is worth picking up. (In fact, it is a slow week, so it is a Pick of the Week contender.)

Filed under: Video Review, Mustang, Ayberk Peckan, Deniz Gamze Erguven, Gunes Nezihe Sensoy, Doga Zeynep Doguslu, Tugba Sunguroglu, Elit Iscan, Ilayda Akdogan, Nihal Koldas