No Mouth

Girl With No Mouth (Peri: Agzi Olmayan Kiz) (2019)

Girl With No Mouth (Peri: Agzi Olmayan Kiz) first published by EyeforFilm

Turkish director/co-writer Can Evrenol’s feature debut Baskin (2015) and his second film Housewife (2017) both used imagery from horror and (literal) cult to delve into the disturbed psyches of their protagonists (respectively male and female). His latest, Girl With No Mouth (Peri: Agzi Olmayan Kiz) deploys a similar allegorical frame, but instead of using genre to conceal an intense psychology, it presents a familiar-seeming dystopian post-apocalyptic scenario, but then has its mutant child characters, each lacking a different facial organ (mouth, eyes, ears, nose), keep refashioning their situation as a children’s own adventure story of ships and pirates.

The girl of the title (Elif Sevinç) might seem, with her disfigured face, a typical monster from horror, but even her name, Perihan, which literally means ‘Fairy Princess’, presents her as a fairytale heroine. Hunted by her uncle Kemal (Mehmet Yilmaz Ak) and his soldiers who are determined to cover up the misdeeds of their Corporation, Perihan finds, living in the woods, three other children (Denizhan Akbaba, Ôzgür Civelek, Kaan Alpdayi) who are like her, and together they flee through the Lost City to the sea that they have always imagined, while hints of the reality that has created them are scattered all around.

On the one hand a parable of corporate greed and exploitation, and of society’s treatment of the disabled and the ‘deficient’, and on the other a story of the way we all reinvent ourselves precisely through story, Girl With No Mouth‘s narrative is so successfully reimagined by its child characters that it is practically a children’s film. It might, accordingly, lack the brand of extreme horror to which Evrenol fans have become accustomed, and it might, by the epic standards of the Mad Max franchise that it most closely resembles, feel a little underpowered, but it is good to see the filmmaker charting different genre seas. 

© Anton Bitel