The Tribe

LFF 2014: ‘The Tribe’ an original, provocative, brutal, and discombobulating work

Once every few years a film comes along which immediately feels so original, vital and provocative that your preconceived expectations of the art-form are challenged. Whilst that inspiring instinct is invoked by The Tribe, it is also suppressed by the film’s unrelenting brutality, on both a physical and metaphorical level. The film charts the devastating experience of a serious minded youth, Sergey (Grigoriy Fesenko) ,who is assigned to a chilly and dilapidated boarding school. Falling under the sway of the institution’s gang, Sergey experiences a brutal hazing exercise and then becomes enmeshed with the school’s alpha delinquents, meddling in a mugging here and some narcotic abuse there, whilst the crew also conduct their own brutal protection racket and, rather more seriously, pimp out two young girls, Anna (Yana Novikova) and her friend (Rosa Babiy) to sexually service the nearby trucker community. This may sound like a somewhat conventional pathway for a serious and dour minded example of contemporary world cinema, but The Tribe has one fascinating ace up its sleeve – the boarding house is a school for the deaf and all the non-professional actors communicate only in sign language, the film yielding no consideration for audience comfort with no voiceover, no subtitles, and (quite frankly, as the plot gains traction) no mercy.

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