The second film of the festival for me and it was a gem. This Turkish film began gently. Five sisters ranging in age perhaps from 11 to 16, play a game on the beach with friends, both girls and boys, on the way home from school. It is an image of exuberance and youth, so normal. But the word of a neighbour sets off a chain of events that swiftly and inexorably changes the world of the girls. Ostensibly because of convention, but really because of fear, their uncle and grandmother shut off the outside world and try to force them into the acceptable role of wife.
The focus of the film is the youngest girl, Lale, and we see what’s happening through her eyes. We imagine she is how all five were once, before puberty and patriarchy took hold. She is luminous, questioning, daring, the only one who refuses to submit. Throughout the film I felt impending tragedy, for how could there be any hope for such girls? But there was hope and the ending was unexpectedly moving.
This film reminded me of Dogtooth – an insular world, the misguided attempts of parents to protect that inevitably cause more harm. It is not as bleak as that film, although it seems more real. You walk away thinking of all of the girls and women of the world treated as commodities, trapped and devalued by something that masquerades as virtue.