Posts Tagged ‘Marriage’

The Europa Cinemas Label Award winner at Cannes 2015, Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s debut feature Mustang has had quite the journey, through to its nomination at the 2016 Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. The film’s place in the Glasgow Film Festival Audience Award seems modest in comparison, but the buzz around the film was keenly felt, acknowledged by festival director Allison Gardner’s proclamation that this film is: “my favourite child of the festival”.

This is an appropriate analogy, as Mustang follows five teenage sisters in rural Turkey who – after an innocent game with their male schoolmates – are accused of indecency by their guardian grandmother and uncle, who look after the girls after their parents passed away a decade earlier. As a result, the house is removed of any potential “instruments of corruption” as the girls become increasingly imprisoned within their own home. The girls are modern and strong willed as a unit against their oppressive forebearers, but this begins to crack when they start to be coupled off into arranged marriages.

While the family and community apply a sanctimonious attitude towards the practice of arranged marriages, there is a dark sexual tension simmering underneath the surface and throughout the village in which the film is set. The girls, for instance, are paraded around the town for the men’s interest and while everyone seems to pretend sex (and potential abuse) doesn’t exist, there is an unnerving, unspoken feeling that everyone knows what is really going on. This tension quietly bubbles for the majority of the film and when it finally boils over in the final act, it does so with devastating effect. What starts off as a coming-of-age film becomes a rebellious road movie.

The impact is keenly felt, as the bond between these sisters is strong and genuine. While eldest Sonay (İlayda Akdoğan) seems to have the most knowledge and control, it is the youngest, Lale (brilliantly performed by Güneş Şensoy in her debut) who is the most defiant and strong; she leads the girls and devises for them to express themselves. In a charming scene, she leads the girls to a see her beloved football team Trabzonspor playing the mighty Galatasaray in an important match. The scene has a daydream feel, expressing this fleeting moment of freedom.

Mustang is a gorgeous tale of the human spirit breaking free from the oppression of society, expertly directed by Deniz Gamze Ergüven. The film succeeds on every level: brilliantly acted by a largely amateur cast, beautifully shot by David Chizallet & Ersin Gok and all topped off by an incredibly moving score by the longtime collaborator of Nick Cave, Warren Ellis. Each beat is truly felt and one can tell that this is a very personal story to its director.

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Locke, the new in-car thriller written and directed by Steven Knight, comes from a conversation he had with one of his producers about the difficulty of filming in moving cars. Weirdly, this film seems to confirm these limitations rather than challenge them, despite ensuing technological advancements.

Locke follows an ordinary and perceivably honourable man take a turn for the worst when he decides to drive to London, rather than home from his construction job, having received a call that his illegitimate child is to be born that night. Thus, the film is made up of an almost real-time drive where Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) attempts to salvage his job, wife and soon to be born child over hands-free conversations (with the spectre of his dead father in his back seat.)

While it can often be refreshing to see films take place in a single location (sometimes applying extra pressure on an airtight narrative), unfortunately Locke leaves a lot to be desired in the script department. The dialogue can be clunky and unsubtle metaphors hit the audience over the head repeatedly. Hardy makes the best of it however, performing a normally mild-mannered man, with a thick, booming Welsh accent, who sees his life unravel over the course of a car journey.

Equally though, not all of these segments are poorly written. Despite the heavy-handed metaphors, Ivan’s somewhat sociopathic attempts to soothe and control his increasingly estranged wife Katrina (Ruth Wilson) are engaging. Similarly, Ivan’s attempts to guide an increasingly inebriated Donal (Andrew Scott) to do the construction work he’s left behind are highly amusing and a nice respite from otherwise rather upsetting plot points.

However when it comes to the real crux of the matter, Locke falls short of really making any kind of emotional impact. While it’s certainly believable that he doesn’t love the impregnated Bethan (Olivia Coleman), given they only met for a short time, it is not enough to attribute his problems on a meekly written, traumatic relationship with his deceased father. These scenes are a clear weakness of the film, and troublingly, are actually supposed to explain the film’s narrative. While there are believable elements to Locke’s breakdown and this is due to Hardy’s excellent delivery, there is no authentic depth to why any of this is happening.

As a result, the film’s climax lacks punch and feels rushed. It’s a shame, as limiting the drama to behind the wheel is an intriguing concept. Equally, it seems a missed opportunity not to take more advantage of the film’s location outside of the car. A more adventurous exploration into the repetitive visual motifs of the motorway could have been intense and rewarding, but instead it merely dresses the stage.

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