“Girl With No Mouth” is a savagely violent, downbeat Turkish dystopia, a picaresque “Peter Pan” (or “Wendy”) meets “How I Live Now.”
Can Evrenol’s thriller is heavy on parable, semi-nonsensical in plot, but benefits from good acting and a grimly-realized children’s odyssey undertaken in post-Apocalyptic future.
Years have passed since “The Great Explosion,” somehow triggered by “The Corporation,” broke down civilization and rendered a generation of children “defective.” They’ve supposedly all died out, or been killed. And with The Corporation now talking of peace and rebuilding, the ones still out there are somehow inconvenient.
That’s the good news/bad news that Kemal (Mehmet Yilmaz Ak) brings his brother (Sermet Yesil). The girl he raised into her tweens, teaching her how to hydrate and feed herself without a mouth? Peri (Elif Sevinç) has to be turned over.
Kemal works for The Corporation. Peri’s dad is all threats (in Turkish with English subtitles) about what he promised to do if this murderous “company man” ever showed up at his door. But they’re mostly empty. In a flash, Dad is dead and Peri is on the run — escaping by turning a door into a raft to float down the river and into the forest.
Not being able to speak, Peri loses herself in opera recordings on her Walkman. That’s how she steps into a snare, only to be rescued by The Captain (Denizhan Akbaba). His dark goggles give away his defect. He’s blind. But not to worry, he and his “band of pirates” compensate for each other’s “deficiencies.”
Bulky Yusek (Özgür Civelek) has no nose. Badger (Kaan Alpdayi) is deaf. None of them can read. Whatever communication barriers there are, Peri — who can read and has been home-schooled — is destined to come in very handy with these Lost Boys.
But Kemal and his murderous minions are on their trail, ready to burn down the forest to ferret them out. That sends the kids on a trek through the woods, to the abandoned village they call “The Lost City,” getting caught in firefights, stumbling across livestock and adults who could help or hurt them.
As with many movies set in this sort of dystopia, there’s a bit more showing us the world that was lost and the kids’ confusion about it than we need. A third act character whom I’ll call Auntie Exposition shows up to explain more than we need to know.
But it’s interesting watching Peri’s regimen for drinking (a feeding tube through the nose) and eating (a string-pull food-processor, diced comestibles fed through another tube to her stomach. Her enterprise saves the “pirates” from The Corporation, time and again.
Yes, it’s one of those thrillers where everybody lets the villain — who has made his villainy obvious — get away to try and kill them again and again.
And no, there’s nothing particularly allegorical about Evrenol and co-writer Kuya Ucun’s version of the future, where every child is flawed and only a gang of them can form up to create a “whole.”
The kids may be archetypes, but typically, there’s a more obvious parable packed into a feral childhood tale like this.
Lacking that as a driving force to the narrative, “Girl With No Mouth” and her crew just wanders about, into and out of bloody trouble, living through a pointless parable and survivalist tale with no real goal or destination.
MPA Rating: unrated, violence
Cast: Elif Sevinç, Özgür Civelek, Denizhan Akbaba, and Mehmet Yilmaz Ak, Sermet Yesil
Credits: Directed by Can Evrenol, script by Kuya Ucun and Can Evrenol. An Indiecan release.
Running time: 1:38