The Tribe

The Tribe ★★

If the essence of cinema lies not in dialogue—a relic of previous art forms—but in the gestures, the movements, the compositions, and the editing, then Miroslav Slaboshpytskiy’s The Tribe should not feel like it is missing anything. The film is conducted entirely in Ukranian sign language, without the assistance of subtitles or narration, leaving the viewer to fill in the gaps in spoken language by a process of deduction. This is a clever way of stripping filmmaking down to its barest formal necessities—a new style of critiquing Hollywood’s ubiquitous syntax—but the approach is more appealing in theory than effective in practice. The Tribe might not feel like it is missing anything, per se, but the film’s steadfast focus on form never allows it to emerge from an artificial realm of auteurist navel-gazing. Perhaps dialogue is needed to distract the audience from seeing the puppet-strings; perhaps the true technical magic of cinema only works if it remains an opaque mystery.

Read the rest of my review here