By turns lyrical and wrenching, Mustang depicts the process by which five orphaned sisters relinquish freedom for a form of cultural bondage. Until then, they flirt with boys and play on the beach, but what looks like innocent fun to Western eyes earns reprobation from their insular Turkish community.
Concerned about their reputation, their grandmother (Nihal G. Koldas) takes away their phones and computers and literally locks them away until marriage. It's The Virgin Suicides by way of The Wolfpack. In a different film, the grandmother would be the villain, except this patriarchal society has her in its stranglehold too. If everyone thinks she's a terrible caretaker, what kind of life can she provide for her granddaughters? So the house becomes a "wife factory" in which the girls trade school for lessons in cooking and quilting. And then the arranged marriages begin.
Lale (Günes Sensoy), the youngest, doesn't understand why the older girls don't resist, except they have no other options. Once they're gone, she plots her escape. The odds are stacked against her, but she's willing to die trying. As action-adventure movies go, Deniz Gamze Ergüven's debut, which made this year's Oscar short list for foreign-language film, is as unlikely as they come, but little Lale makes for one hell of a kick-ass heroine.