Mustang (12/30)

Part suspenseful-drama, part fever-dream, and with undeniable echoes of Sofia Coppola’s Virgin Suicides (but without the bona-fide male gaze-y perspective), Mustang follows five fiercely bonded, beautiful, and strong-willed sisters as they are imprisoned in their own home, under the rule of their conservative grandmother and authoritarian uncle. Set in a sleepy Turkish town on the coast of the Black Sea, Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s directorial debut, and this year’s French submission for the Academy Award for best Foreign Film, is an irresistible fairy tale-nightmare that effortlessly pulls you under its enchanting spell.

As they are groomed for marriage, the sisters face more than the melancholy that comes with loss of childhood naiveté; they are also handed a heavy dose of cabin fever and a veritably nightmarish initiation into male-dominated society. But despite the construction of literal walls around them, the “mustangs”—described by Ergüven’s as a five-headed hydra—find moments of pure ecstatic happiness, always resisting the cruel hand they’ve been dealt, in this moving and stridently feminist cinematic gem.

Dir. Deniz Gamze Ergüven, 2015, DCP, 97 min.