The Tribe

The Tribe ½

Slaboshpitsky desperately wants to be mentioned in the same breath as filmmakers like Von Trier, Noé, Haneke—provocateurs who make aesthetically distinct pictures that are narratively unflinching and intellectually challenging, even when they aren't entirely successful. The Tribe reveals the Ukrainian wannabe-auteur has a long way to go.

To be blunt, this film is a complete waste of Slaboshpitsky's talent for composition and atmosphere. His penchant for scenes that unfold in mobile long takes resembles Mungiu, except Mungiu understands when to get in and out of scenes and uses the fluidity of the shot to immerse the viewer in the narrative. Slaboshpitsky's usage is tedious, stretching a film that should be 90 minutes to over two hours. It is impossible to justify two five-minute scenes that amount to applying for passports and filling out paperwork. The scenes that benefit from realtime can be counted on one hand.

But even when Slaboshpitsky's style works, the film can't overcome the conceptual gimmick (all dialogue is sign language w/o subtitles) or the cheap provocation of the material (a medical procedure and some extremely brutal violence). This is a punishing, shallow film centered around unpleasant characters in a banal story of criminality and misanthropy. I hesitate to use the word vile, but The Tribe does wallow in human cruelty for no enlightening or intriguing reason—unless shock value counts.

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