Friday, 20 May 2016


Withstanding and overcoming in Mustang, Deniz Gamze Erguven's pretty little whirlwind of a film. It's a picture of pastel tones and shimmering sunlight, such that its coarser details might rupture the fabric all the more devastatingly; similarly, its protagonists are as slender and as lithe as they are young and innocent, such that that coarseness might make the same mark upon them. Erguven sacrifices innovation for honesty, but, in her twin virtues of insight and empathy, creates something close to genuine innovation: a portrait of people that is frank and unambiguous yet never straightforward nor simplistic. It never even courts such qualities until the closing sequences, though their more urgent tenor is thoroughly earnt, and supplies Mustang with a jolt of dramatic drive that helps give the film a sense of shape and purpose. Alas, that flighty flippancy is concurrently lost, thus perhaps betraying the sense of shape that it arguably had in largely not having one at all. Mustang is no dreamy, dithery dirge, though - it's shot through with vibrancy and verve, manifesting in myriad ways. There's powerful, palpable anger, then the frustration at its suppression. There's humour, in moments of charming cheek or in scenes of outright silliness. There's buoyancy and uplift, even in times when it's not entirely appropriate - a central theme of this film, the strength of these young women in withstanding and overcoming. Even in its occasionally underwhelming slightness, the result is a most fulfilling joy.