The trouble begins in the beginning of the film, when some nasty gossip and a misunderstanding turns innocent fun into a minor sexual scandal, leading the girls’ relatives to increasingly shut down their access to the outside world. The grandmother brings suitors to the house, determined to marry the older girls off as soon as possible. The film tells the tell about five young sisters living in a conservative Turkish society, and the friction regarding the relationship between them and their uncle and grandmother. Writer/director Deniz Gamze Erguven and writer Alice Winocour have crafted a story for the ages about how women continue to suffer at the hands of patriarchs. Lale (Gunes Sensoy) is the youngest of the sisters and in the end proves to be the toughest. As Lale witnesses what her older sisters are subjected to, she becomes more determined to avoid such destiny. One of the strengths of the screenplay, co-written by the film’s Turkish-born, French-raised director Deniz Gamze Erguven, is that it suggests but neatly avoids direct mention of any specific religion.
Deniz Gamze Ergüven makes a remarkably assured debut as as writer/director here, aided by a terrific ensemble cast, especially the five young actresses playing the sisters. The aforementioned Sensoy is the central character amongst the five, and is probably the standout, though all have their moments. It is a coming-of-age drama, which reflects upon its five central protagonists as well as the society that so decisively influences their lives.