A deaf teenager enters a specialized boarding school where, to survive, he becomes part of a wild organization - the tribe. His love for one of the concubines will unwillingly lead him to break all the unwritten rules within the Tribe's hierarchy.Written by
Sent to a boarding school designed to cater for deaf mute students, a teenager has trouble fitting in with his new peers in this dark drama from Ukraine. The film is shot entirely in sign language without any subtitles or narration - a stylistic choice that sounds promising. Indeed, the first twenty to thirty minutes of 'The Tribe' feel fascinatingly different from most other movies as it is necessary to concentrate on the body language and facial expressions of the characters to work out what they are saying. Unfortunately, the film runs much longer than that, and while there are some highlights later on, two hours is incredibly long for a movie like this with the novelty value of no dialogue dissipating around halfway through. The film's other novelty aspect -- being shot in 34 very long single takes -- also becomes troublesome as the film progresses since the single take process leads to most shots being long distance ones in which it is hard to read body language and therefore difficult to decipher what is happening. The precious little that can be made out of 'The Tribe''s plot is admittedly fascinating though. There seems be some sort of sordid culture in the boarding school environment, which at least some of the teachers appear to encourage and foster. Echoes of films like 'Unman, Wittering & Zigo' and Sidney Lumet's 'Child's Play' are felt with the suggestion of something sinister in the air, but as mentioned, what exactly is hard to tell. The film certainly ends on a potent note at least with a reminder of how vulnerable we all are when we cannot hear.
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