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The Tribe (2014)The Tribe (2014)

The Tribe (2014)

No subtitles, no translation, just Ukranian sign language and a downward spiral into violence

Crime, Drama

8.0

movie

Netherlands, Ukraine

No language, Ukrainian, Ukrainian Sign Language

Character-driven, Dark, Depressing

2014

Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy, Myroslav Slaboshpytskyi

Alexander Panivan, Grygoriy Fesenko, Hryhoriy Fesenko

130 min

Synopsis

Deaf mute Sergey enters a specialized boarding school for deaf-and-dumb. In this new place, he needs to find his way through the hierarchy of the school’s network dealing with crimes and prostitution, the Tribe. By taking part of several robberies, he gets propelled higher into the organization. Then he meets one of the Chief’s concubines Anya, and unwillingly breaks all the unwritten rules of the tribe.

Our Take

8.0
Scott Wilson

This teenage crime drama contains enough grit to stand on its own, but The Tribe’s real hook is in the way it’s told: entirely in Ukrainian sign language, without subtitles. Set in a boarding school for deaf students, new arrival Sergei must contend with an institution that’s run like a gang. His journey through the ranks is extremely violent and graphic, including unflinching depictions of rape and a back-alley abortion that lingers long in the mind.

Its unpleasantness will be a barrier for some, but for the curious, it’s an oddly balletic film. Among the misery, actors communicate the entire story via body language. Emphatic dialogue delivery conveys the mood of each scene (which often changes for the worse), and the characters’ actions speak loud and clear. Narratively it breaks little ground, and its darkness can’t be overstated, but there’s grace to its reliance on everything but words to tell its story. A film you won’t stop thinking about.

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