The Tribe - film review

A silent movie would seem the perfect peaceful antidote to ear-splitting summer blockbusters (see Mad Max: Fury Road). So you might think. The Tribe starts quietly enough, a Ukrainian drama cast entirely with deaf-mute amateurs and performed in sign (no subtitles). Sergey is a new arrival at a boarding school for hearing-impaired teenagers. As the camera skulkingly follows him round cold institutional corridors and graffiti-covered buildings, the language barrier makes it easy for the sign-illiterate among us to relate to his outsider predicament.

But quickly he is drawn into the school's criminal underworld. By night, the girls are prostituted while the boys commit assault and petty theft. What's striking is how little the lack of spoken dialogue impairs our understanding - it's easy to forget until director Miroslav Slaboshpitsky serves a sharp reminder with clever use of sound. The film grows increasingly tense and brutal - still almost silent but screamingly violent. And into this tinderbox is thrown the most dangerous spark of all: love - or at least intense infatuation - lighting the way towards a brilliantly worked but devastating denouement.

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