THE TRIBE

PrintE-mail Written by Ryan Pollard

Set within an insular deaf community in the city of Kiev, Ukrainian writer/director Miroslav Slaboshpitsky’s debut feature, which has been highly praised and awarded everywhere, is told entirely through unsubtitled sign language with actual actors with hearing-impairments. After arriving at a downtrodden boarding school, Sergey (Grigoriy Fesenko) ends up falling in with a violent bullying gang of misfits whose only goals in life are to fight, steal and pimp young girls to local truckers, whilst being under the watchful eye of an imposing woodwork teacher. As he starts to work his way up through the ranks, Sergey starts to develop an emotional attachment with one of the pimped girls (Yana Novikova). However, their illicit relationship starts to compromise the tightly-run operation of the “tribe”.

This “homage to silent cinema” has strong sense of empowering authenticity to it as a result of Slaboshpitsky’s stark unsentimental portrayal of each of the protagonists; whenever love gets involved, destruction follows and all this culminates to a grim climax where we witness explicit sequences of bloody violence and brutality, like as if we are watching a theatre show of cruelty and hurt. The world in which these characters interact in is voyeuristically grim, and it certainly has an air of Gomorrah about it, yet its portrayal can provoke the most powerful emotional reactions than language ever could.

It’s almost as if the film is forcing the audience to look away during the most toughest of scenes, which is all the more peculiar given the film’s glowing achievements and quintessential praise it has received, despite being one of the most disturbing films of the year. There’s also a touch of Gaspar Noé’s exploitation-esque flair, particularly during the more challenging and revealing scenes, such as the raw sex scenes, an extremely tough scene involving protracted back-street abortion and the explosions of bloody violence and brutality.

The use of actual deaf non-professional actors adds to the film’s authenticity, with each one giving superbly raw performances (special plaudits to Yana Novikova) whilst also appearing natural and convincing. Plus, the film uses audaciously long extended takes as a means of creating continuous visual, and at times claustrophobic and damp, environments, all thanks to cinematographer/editor Valentyn Vasyanovych.

In the end, The Tribe is a shocking, violent, yet unique film that communicates extremely well without words, or even music for that matter. Even when verbal language is completely absent, there’s no disconnecting barrier between you and the performances. The scenes of almost unwatchable bleakness, violence and squalor will be an insurmountable challenge for even the toughest of audience members, but even so, The Tribe is a film that’s certainly not to be underestimated.

THE TRIBE / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: MIROSLAV SLABOSHPITSKY / GRIGORIY FESENKO, YANA NOVIKOVA, ROSA BABIY, ALEXANDER DSIADEVICH / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

 

Set within an insular deaf community in the city of Kiev, Ukrainian writer/director Miroslav Slaboshpitsky’s debut feature, which has been highly praised and awarded everywhere, is told entirely through unsubtitled sign language with actual actors with hearing-impairments. After arriving at a downtrodden boarding school, Sergey (Grigoriy Fesenko) ends up falling in with a violent bullying gang of misfits whose only goals in life are to fight, steal and pimp young girls to local truckers, whilst being under the watchful eye of an imposing woodwork teacher. As he starts to work his way up through the ranks, Sergey starts to develop an emotional attachment with one of the pimped girls (Yana Novikova). However, their illicit relationship starts to compromise the tightly-run operation of the “tribe”.

 

This “homage to silent cinema” has strong sense of empowering authenticity to it as a result of Slaboshpitsky’s stark unsentimental portrayal of each of the protagonists; whenever love gets involved, destruction follows and all this culminates to a grim climax where we witness explicit sequences of bloody violence and brutality, like as if we are watching a theatre show of cruelty and hurt. The world in which these characters interact in is voyeuristically grim, and it certainly has an air of Gomorrah about it, yet its portrayal can provoke the most powerful emotional reactions than language ever could.

 

It’s almost as if the film is forcing the audience to look away during the most toughest of scenes, which is all the more peculiar given the film’s glowing achievements and quintessential praise it has received, despite being one of the most disturbing films of the year. There’s also a touch of Gaspar Noé’s exploitation-esque flair, particularly during the more challenging and revealing scenes, such as the raw sex scenes, an extremely tough scene involving protracted back-street abortion and the explosions of bloody violence and brutality.

 

The use of actual deaf non-professional actors adds to the film’s authenticity, with each one giving superbly raw performances (special plaudits to Yana Novikova) whilst also appearing natural and convincing. Plus, the film uses audaciously long extended takes as a means of creating continuous visual, and at times claustrophobic and damp, environments, all thanks to cinematographer/editor Valentyn Vasyanovych.

 

In the end, The Tribe is a shocking, violent, yet unique film that communicates extremely well without words, or even music for that matter. Even when verbal language is completely absent, there’s no disconnecting barrier between you and the performances. The scenes of almost unwatchable bleakness, violence and squalor will be an insurmountable challenge for even the toughest of audience members, but even so, The Tribe is a film that’s certainly not to be underestimated.

THE TRIBE / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: MIROSLAV SLABOSHPITSKY / GRIGORIY FESENKO, YANA NOVIKOVA, ROSA BABIY, ALEXANDER DSIADEVICH / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW


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