The Tribe

The Tribe ★★★

This bold, violent Ukrainian drama from director Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy still succeeds having no subtitles or sound proving that silence is an arresting power to haunt viewers. However with all of its technical prowess, The Tribe asserts a hefty challenge for everyone to truly connect with its heavy-handed narrative. The film follows a group of deaf students who are trying to live whilst dealing with the underground crime world of robberies, murder, sex and prostitution, and drugs. At the same time, the film is part coming-of-age story of a young man who goes deeper into that realm of darkness.

Bleak, violent atmosphere permeates through from the moment the film started all the way to the end. But here’s my problem, the extent of brutality that the director conjures on screen is exhausting and repetitive. The film doesn’t allow any breathing ground for audiences to swallow every damn thing. I do appreciate the extreme violence in films, but this one is just pummeling through until you suffocate. Moreover, it adds up to the hindrances besides the wordless dialogue in really connecting with the narrative. Speaking of narrative, it’s sort of banal—having seen so many European films that also deal with the same thing of crime and stuff.

Anyhow, the performances are solid from all deaf, non-actors. You really need to rely on their pure body movements, as well as their facial expressions to figure out their every motivation—which is quite admirable. With all of its shortcomings about its treatment with violence, The Tribe is still terrific, albeit antagonizing drama that is undeniably unique and fascinating.

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