The Tribe (2014)
Editor’s Notes: The following review is part of our coverage of the 2014 Fantastic Fest. For more information on the festival visit fantasticfest.com and follow Fantastic Fest on Twitter at @fantasticfest.
The foundation of The Tribe will intimidate and shock audiences. The film is shot with an all-deaf cast with no acting experience and there are no subtitles to tell you what they’re saying. Accept the premise and the content as a challenge to enhance your love of cinema. It would be reckless to dismiss this as a gimmick. The Tribe works because of the skillful direction of Miroslav Slaboshpitsky. Let’s dissect why this film is a must-see.
Slaboshpitsky does a wonderful job of crafting the experience so that words are not needed to follow the story. All involved actors deliver a raw, moving experience that will rock you to the core.
The framework of the story follows a newly transferred student named Sergey (Grigoriy Fesenko). Sergey makes his way to a boarding school where the main cast is quickly introduced and established. Sergey falls in with the wrong crowd and gets initiated into the high school gang that is headed by two teachers. The gang leader assigns tasks ranging from mugging to prostitution and theft. Considering these are children participating in said vicious, inhumane crimes, this film may remind the audience of A Clockwork Orange. Slaboshpitsky exercises little restraint when it comes to depicting the listed crimes. The beatings look realistic and the prostitution sequences are haunting. This is a gritty, harrowing look at a plausible scenario.
Slaboshpitsky does a wonderful job of crafting the experience so that words are not needed to follow the story. All involved actors deliver a raw, moving experience that will rock you to the core. Fesenko does a majority of the heavy lifting but each performance had to line up to deliver such a powerful film. Slaboshpitsky and cinematographer and editor Valentyn Vasyanovych teach a master class in how to shoot a long take with complex camera movements. We are mere observers in The Tribe; there are no first person perspective shots in this film. The long takes require a high level of precision, execution and patience. The meticulous planning into every shot is a rewarding aesthetic experience. The film plays out like visual poetry. The subtle (or desperate) body posture, perfect framing and long takes through multiple rooms with varying levels are a pure joy to witness. The tracking shots are incredible without being showy. The filmmakers are taking cinema to another level. There are camera techniques in here that many filmmakers will notice and try to duplicate.
The meticulous planning into every shot is a rewarding aesthetic experience. The film plays out like visual poetry.
There are genre moments in The Tribe that makes this a terrifying form of horror. Reflecting on the acts of violence that took place, none of the gang members could hear said acts. Not to say they would change their actions or alter anything but you will see what I mean when you watch the film.
The pacing of The Tribe is spot on thanks to a great edit of the film. Each scene is essential to the story. Some scenes feel out of place but they’re setting something up for later in the film. As the story progresses the slow boil turns into a kettle that boils over and takes no prisoners. This isn’t exactly the feel good movie of the year.
It’s a hard film to recommend because the content touches on taboo topics. It’s difficult to discuss this film without whispering about films such as A Clockwork Orange and City of God. If you appreciate those films, The Tribe will be right up your alley. Take a chance on this film if you dare. The Tribe is a one of a kind, modern masterpiece. Support this film when you get the chance. The Tribe played very well at Cannes Film Festival and continues to grow through festivals such as Fantastic Fest. Put this on your radar.
The Tribe is a one of a kind, modern masterpiece.