This sobering tale of five orphaned adolescent Turkish girl starts on a high note as they are having fun playing on the beach with their male classmates celebrating that the school term has just ended and the summer break is about to start. Their euphoria quickly disappears when they get home and are confronted by their angry grandmother who has heard about their horseplay from a nosey neighbor, and she now fears that what she considers is wild and loose behavior will ruin their marriage chances in the very remote village that they live in.
Their Grandmother is encouraged by their Uncle Erol to take matters immediately into hand and to ensure that they keep their virtues in tact, he insists that the girls are confined to the house which he helps to convert practically into a prison. The house is stripped bare of anything that can possibly corrupt them such as phones and computers and they are forced to stay home wearing shapeless drab shift dresses.
Local women come by during the day to teach them how to cook traditional dishes and the house is turned into what the girls describe as ‘a wife factory’. There is a brief moment of freedom when Lala one on the younger girls successfully plots for them all to escape to see an important football final in Istanbul, but that results with bars being put on all the windows to stop any possible future outings.
Grandmother and Uncle start in earnest trying to arrange marriages for them all in strict accordance with their custom, and the pickings of potential grooms in their small village is not good at all. Sonay the eldest girl is very lucky as she actually gets to marry some one she had been dating on the side, but Selma is paired with a very dull local that she detests on sight. The morning after her unhappy wedding she is ignominiously dragged off to the hospital by her in-laws for a medical examination as there was no blood on the marital sheets and she is falsely accused of not being a virgin.
Regardless of this and the fact that the remaining three girls are far to young to marry, Grandmother and Uncle steam ahead dragging any single suitor to the house that they can lay their hands on. However these are the most rebellious of the sisters and they are prepared to fight back in anyway they can, even if the choices they must make have tragic consequences.
This shattering and immensely powerful drama is the more remarkable because it is the first feature directed and co-written by actress Deniz Gamze Ergüven. She very sensitively handles the way that these sisters have been robbed of their childhood innocence and had their basic freedoms unjustly stripped away from them in this patriarchal society.
Erguven draws really mature performances from her very young and inexperienced cast who so beautifully portray their characters as normal young modern women that simply had the misfortune to be born into a culture where reactionary elders care more about society’s misjudged sanctions than the happiness of their own kith and kin.