Every year, 15 million girls get married off before the age of 18 – that’s one girl every two seconds. “Mustang,” a 2015 Turkish film directed and co-written by Deniz Gaze Erguven, focuses on this troubling issue. The movie delves into the lives of five orphan girls: Lale, Nur, Ece, Selma, and Sonay who live with their grandmother and uncle. Lale, the youngest of the five sisters and the protagonist in the movie, sees “everything changed in a blink of an eye.”
This movie is rated PG-13 because it contains some adult language and touches on mature subjects and religious beliefs. It is, by far, the best foreign language film I have ever seen. It takes place in a small Muslim village in Turkey. One day a woman in the village sees the girls playing a harmless game with a couple of schoolboys but twists the truth when she tells their grandmother. Furious, the grandmother and uncle beat the five girls for acting like “hustlers.” They are imprisoned in the white walls and gates surrounding the house, leaving them no chance of fleeing the “wife factory,” as Lale calls it. No matter how hard they stare out the window or try to loosen the bars that reach the sky, escaping is fatal. “Home” can no longer be called home but a prison for the girls. Life is slowly yanked away from them, leaving the grandmother and uncle in control. They make the girls conceal their bodies, learn to cook, clean, and maintain the house. As her oldest sisters approach the marriageable age of 15, Lale surreptitiously plans an escape before it is too late.
“Mustang” is a movie I believe every girl needs to see. It made me cry, laugh, and think. The movie shows the unwavering love between sisters and demonstrates female empowerment, even in the youngest girl, Lale. It signifies that even in the midst of darkness, you can prevail.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.