Rocca’s review published on Letterboxd:
Where to begin....
The Tribe is a wholly and unique experience. I missed the opening minute or so, but from what I heard there was a warning stating that the whole film would be in sign language without any subtitles. So I guess that's the set up for the film huh? No mention of the downright and disgusting acts of humanity that would ensue?
Nevertheless I was very excited to see The Tribe, but within the first half hour I completely overestimated my patience. I usually have a very tough time watching anything over 2hours if it isn't within a cinema. This is why I made it a mission to see the film during it's one week run in my local area.
First time director Miroslav Slaboshpitsky presents one of the darkest and down right cold blooded worlds I've ever seen on film. Drugs, violence, rape, abortion, you name it. From the snowy setting of Europe to the cold blues and rough textures of chipped paint, there is very little joy to be found for the characters and the viewer as we follow the protagonist's dealings within and underground crime syndicate at an institution for the deaf.
From a story perspective I really don't know what to say because I'm not completely sure of all the details and motivations of the characters. I understood the overall story, but one subplot about Italy left me confused. Overall it seemed to be a rather straight forward story that's enhanced by it's direction.
The Tribe is very, very good. The acting for all of the unknowns is relatively great, and the cinematography only helps the performances even more. Every single scene is just one long take, so there are no cuts to close ups or anything that you would expect from pretty much any other modern film in the world. Tracking and dolly shots, and when the camera does finally stop, it's only when you get a full shot of the subjects within frame. Almost as if taken out of a Wes Anderson film, except instead of quirk and wit, you're left with dread and the corruption of youth.
Ultimately I'd recommend The Tribe to only hardcore cinephiles, or those fluent in Ukrainian sign language. For me it was a challenge to get through even in the cinema, but it was worth it to hear the utter gasps that filled the room during it's third act.