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Review: The Tribe

The Tribe by Miroslav Slaboshpitsky is one of those rare films that is really worth the experience of seeing one time, but one time only.

This reviewer could probably not be subjected to a repeat viewing, but that is more than fine, because surviving the first time is the key to getting through The Tribe, (as an audience member passed out during a TIFF screening and had to be escorted out on a stretcher).

The plot is actually surprisingly easy to follow in The Tribe, despite the fact that the characters, all non-actors, communicate in Ukranian sign language, and no translations or subtitled are provided by Slaboshpitsky.

The conceit of The Tribe is essentially a take on the gangster film. It starts in a school, but the action is taken to the back allies, the truck-yards, the dorms, and eventually, into the depths of Hell.

But first, viewers are forced to endure brutal violence, explicit copulating, and eventually, as a result, one of the most difficult scenes to watch this year. Get the headphones ready or it will haunt us to our very souls.

The genius of The Tribe is that Slaboshpitsky practically defies us to look away from the action, all captured coldly and steadily, with a fully realized colour scheme, but with a great emphasis on working blue. The images of The Tribe are even more haunting, because of the rapt attention necessary to make up for the lack of dialogue. The clues can only be gathered by watching, observing, and ultimately, submitting to acts of voyeurism. We need to keep our glued to The Tribe to truly appreciate its splendour.

Actually, that’s not entire true. It is almost an imperative to gaze at certain audience members, and see how they are handling the experience of such a visceral film. It’s best to try to experience The Tribe along with a rapt audience, a kind of tribe of its own, as the film’s constant pace and striking ending will surely inspire conversation among our seat-mates, or even strangers.

That is, if we don’t just sit there stunned, unable to process the film with a typical good / bad reaction, and instead we sit there slack-jawed, along with true wordlessness.

The expression “no words” gets tossed around too easily, in the case of tolerating and understanding The Tribe, it certainly does not need any.

[star v=4]