I was lucky enough to be invited to see a couple of movies recently and thought I’d share my thoughts on them with you. If you follow me on Snapchat you would’ve seen my immediate reactions – the movies I saw were both incredibly moving but in very different ways.
Rated: M (Turkish with English subtitles)
Season starts 23 June exclusive to Cinema Paradiso
Mustang tells the story of five sisters being raised in a small Turkish town by their grandmother and uncle. When the sisters are seen playing around with their male classmates on the last day of school the villagers immediately disapprove, threatening the girls’ virtue and marriage prospects. The family is swift in removing any instruments of corruption such as phones and computers, and imprisoning the girls within their home, which quickly becomes a “wife factory”. As the two elder girls are married off we see the extremes the younger three are willing to go to to avoid the same fate.
This film is shot in a naturalistic style that reminded me a lot of The Virgin Suicides, where a beautiful natural setting and lots of bright light were juxtaposed with the awful things the girls were forced to endure.
Although absolutely brutal and heartbreaking, Mustang was also filled with hope and the promise that the next generation can bring about change. It is an understated film that speaks gently of the realities of growing up a woman in an oppressive society, highlighting the fierce unity and resilience of the sisters as they try to have a say in how their own lives will turn out.
If you are a feminist, or believe in equality, or believe in love, if you hope for change and wish for a better world, you should absolutely see this film. At times it’s not easy to watch, but I think it’s important to see. Mustang is an effortlessly beautiful film that will stay with you long after you’ve watched it.
Me Before You
Currently showing across a number of cinemas including Event Cinemas Innaloo
In a quaint English town, offbeat, quirky and big-hearted Lou Clark takes on a job as a carer for quadriplegic Will Traynor. While he at first reacts with indifference and coldness to her attempts to brighten his life, they eventually form a friendship. But when Lou learns that Will intends to end his life she does everything she can to show him that his life is worth living.
On the surface, Me Before You is a simple love story, with life-or-death stakes that ignite a fire behind the characters. I’m not going to lie – the ending was incredibly sad, hard to watch and yes, it made me cry. This is largely due to the portrayal of Lou who, although at times is a little over sold, is ultimately someone you just don’t want to see hurt.
However when you look beyond this, the film is problematic in a lot of ways. The disabled community has rallied against this movie, claiming it positions people with disabilities as a burden to their family or carers and promotes the idea that people would be better off dead than disabled. The film also plays on a lot of clichés when it comes to portraying Will before the accident and after the accident. All I will say is to make sure you keep this in mind when you watch the film so that the romance of it all doesn’t sweep these issues out of the way.
One thing that I will give this film (and the book that it was based on) credit for is raising the topic of euthanasia. I have a lot of strong feelings about our right to choose and I think any movie that brings this subject to light and allows people to talk about it is a good thing. Too often the subject is deemed too depressing and is swept under the carpet, which does no favours for those who are fighting for the right to die with dignity. If you see this film, I hope it encourages you to have a conversation with your loved ones and maybe even look into the issue further.
On another note, I also had an issue with the fact that the female character in this movie felt she had to save the male character – it made me feel really icky when she realised she “wasn’t enough” to save him. To me, that was an unrealistic portrayal of what a relationship should be and anyone who thinks this is a romantic relationship goal will only be setting themselves up for heartbreak (and feelings of inadequacy) because you absolutely cannot expect someone to live for you if they don’t want to live for themselves. Being told you’re the only thing that makes someone want to get up in the morning might seem romantic but it’s actually controlling and destructive, in my opinion.
So – although it is problematic on several levels, Me Before You is worth a watch especially if you feel like having a bit of a cry. Enjoy it for what it is but do yourself a favour and think about some of the underlying issues too.
Have you – or would you – seen either of these films? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
*I received tickets to these movies in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own.