It's hard to determine what a movie will be like based on a description in a festival program book. But when it says it will be in Ukrainian sign language with no subtitles then you know you will be seeing something truly original.
The Tribe takes place at a deaf school where the new kid is taken in by a gang. After going through some initiation rituals he becomes a full member of the gang. This gang is part of a lot of illegal activities. They randomly beat people up and steal their liquor, they go on trains and try to steal from people, and they run a prostitution ring with a couple of the girls from the school. After the guy that pimps the girls out at a local truck stop is tragically killed the new guy replaced him. But he starts to fall in love with one of the girls and things start to fall apart for him.
Well my description of the movie is the best I can piece together from what figured out and talking to other people. With no subtitles and no music it was hard to determine what was going on. At one point in the movie the two girls get into a fight and start arguing in sign language. I was never able to figure out what they were arguing about.
Besides the lack of talking and sound the other issue I had was a lot of scenes felt like they went on too long and desensitized. If you are not going to have sound you better make sure you keep us interested with the action. Instead we get incredibly long takes of people walking and even the sex scenes seemed to go on too long. The camera was always a distance away and everything felt emotionless. It was hard to care for any of the characters. Even when one of them died tragically it was treated very coldly.
The one exception to that is the abortion scene. I don't want to go into too much detail but it was disturbing and cringe worthy. It was the one seen that really had an impact.
While there was a lot I didn't like about the movie (and I didn't even talk about the poorly choreographed fight scene) I admire it for being brave enough to do something different. That is what I love about film festivals. You get to see all kinds of movie that you normally wouldn't see. This is a movie unlike anything you have ever seen or will ever see.
Overall: 3/5 a very original and interesting movie but doesn't entirely work. Worth watching for the curiosity factor But if you do watch it make sure you are wide awake because the lack of sound and extremely long takes might put you to sleep.
Like this guy who was still sleeping after the movie ended.