December 8, 2020 Girl With No Mouth (Movie Review)
What is it that makes someone deficient? A new post-apocalyptic Adventure/Thriller, entitled Girl With No Mouth, asks this very question as a motley crew of kids attempts to outrun a corporation hellbent on covering their tracks. Indiecan Entertainment delivers the film to DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital in North America on Tuesday, December 8, 2020.
Director Can Evrenol (Baskin 2015, Housewife 2017), who co-wrote the story with Kutay Ucun (Music, Please! A Journey to Turkish Indie Music documentary short 2016, Cemile’s Obsession short 2017), returns with a bleak saga that pits four children against the ‘powers that be’ in a war-torn nation. Decades earlier, a toxic explosion caused by The Corporation led to an epidemic, one that brought on deformities in the region’s children. And the best way to cover up their deadly mistakes is to rid the world of the evidence, one child at a time.
After a tragedy forces young Perihan (Elif Sevinç: Keloglan 2018, Kizim series) to flee her home, she finds herself lost in the woods with only one sneaker and her father’s (Sermet Yesil: Kosmos 2009, The Face short 2013) dying words circling in her mind: Never cross the river, keep your bag with you at all times, and run if you see people. Which creates some issues when Peri encounters a teenage boy called The Captain (Denizhan Akbaba: Bir Gün Bir Çocuk 2016, James Potter and the Lost Wand short 2019) while swinging upside down from a trap.
Thankfully, the Captain quickly befriends the silent brunette and brings her to meet his fellow Pirates, Yusuf (Özgür Civelek: The Last Emperor: Abdul Hamid II series, The Teacher series) and little Badger (Kaan Alpdayi). Though the arrival of a girl in this once boys-only pirate crew initially causes tension, the group soon realizes that they have plenty in common. They are, in fact, all exceptional children—so the Girl With No Mouth fits right in.
But The Corporation is always nearby, stalking their every move, and the Corporal (Mehmet Yilmaz Ak: Halka series, The Protector series) wants the young adventurers dead.
If Peter Pan’s Lost Boys (plus Wendy) were fleeing Captain Hook amid the fallout of Chernobyl, you’d have a similar scenario as that presented in Girl With No Mouth. Fortunately, there are no corollaries to 2012’s awful Chernobyl Diaries; instead, this is a film that takes a Tinkerbell dusting of William Golding’s classic Lord of the Flies and a pinch of the Resident Evil franchise, mixes in a sprig of Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children book series, and creates something that could fit alongside recent offerings such as 2017’s We All Fall Down and 2018’s Don’t Grow Up.
Though some of the details here are vague (i.e. what exactly is The Corporation, how did they manage a toxic explosion, and how did this entire mess come to be), Girl With No Mouth is strong enough to rise above these potential plot issues, focusing instead on the unified strength of its unique characters. Case in point, while one individual’s situation at the end of the film is preposterous, Evrenol’s work is powerful enough for viewers to push this one snafu aside and see the whole rather than any of its deformed parts.
The exceptional director achieves this success with a talented cast and crew, as well as a screenplay with a moving moral at its heart. Delivering the film in Turkish with English subtitles, Evrenol enlists a myriad of talents to bring his vision to life. These added bonuses are hardly limited to the soothing and elegant Classical soundtrack by Deniz Güngören (Ev 2010, Yok Artik 2015) or the lovely cinematography of Meryem Yavuz (Ayak Altinda short 2007, Not Knowing 2019), which highlights the superb choice of locations used throughout the film. A tight package, Girl With No Mouth provides its ensemble cast with an excellent foundation.
And that cast is young. In the titular role of the Girl With No Mouth, Sevinç is tasked with guiding the entire plot without ever uttering a single word. It would be quite a hefty demand of an actor with decades on their dossier, but the young actress delivers her role with an understated finesse that is flawless. Despite Perihan, or simply Peri, never offering a single line of dialogue, we immediately take to her character and want to see her survive to the end. She is intelligent, gentle, and able to display a bold inner-strength amid a post-apocalyptic landscape that wants her dead. In this, Sevinç unintentionally depicts a role model for young women.
As the leader of the self-proclaimed Pirate Crew, Akbaba’s The Captain is equally kind-hearted. Without parents around to force him to do right by the other children, he could have easily abandoned his crew to their own devices. Instead he takes Yusuf, Badger and, ultimately, Peri, into his fold and provides them with a place to call home. Overseeing meals and offering bedtime stories, he is a steampunk pirate with a paternal streak that warms the heart. Meanwhile Civelek’s Yusuf is the sullen ‘brother’ who takes awhile to warm up to Peri—though you can count on him for comedic relief—and Alpdayi’s Badger is the adorable but curious youngest member of the group.
So while the child actors are apt to steal your heart, Ak should not be overlooked for his performance as the vile Kemal. A man obsessed with ending the lives of these children, something that he knows is morally reprehensible, he trudges through the film with purpose, determination, and a cruel veneer that makes viewers want to see him fail. Equally talented is the fiery Özay Fecht (40 Quadratmeter Deutschland 1986, Zerre 2012), who throws a wrench into the plot as the sergeant’s wife.
At 98 minutes, Girl With No Mouth is an enjoyable experience but definitely not a feel-good movie. Intended to make its viewers think about what it means to be “deficient,” providing an excellent moral, and reminding us that there is strength in numbers, as well as in vulnerability, this is an intelligent film that speaks softly though it carries timeless messages. In fact, in our divisive modern times especially, there’s something to be said for the group of misfit pirates who, despite each of their individual challenges, are able to come together as one to thrive. For all of the above, Cryptic Rock gives Girl With No Mouth 4.5 of 5 stars.