A nightmare world where violence and intimidation thrive where love and tenderness are totally absent and where prostitution is a way of life is strongly conveyed in Ukrainian director Miroslav Slaboshpitsky’s disturbing first feature The Tribe (ICA and Curzon Bloomsbury until May 28).
This audacious debut is not only a compelling confrontational drama is also an innovative rethinking of cinema’s language of sight and sound, being the first film with unspoken dialogue and where communication is by sign language, with no sub titles.
Featuring a superb cast of deaf people, it is set in a boarding school for young deaf people, where the new arrival Sergey (Grigoriy Fesenko) is drawn into an institutional system of organised crime, involving robbery and prostitution. But he crosses a dangerous line when he falls for Anna (Yana Novikova), one of the girls to whom he is assigned as pimp.
Depicting a closed world with its own unforgiving laws, the film is part thriller, part bad dream, with often startling use of intense sexuality and violence. It is a movie that subverts the pietities that often attend cinemas depiction of deaf people, and is shot in long complex takes in semi-documentary fashion. The non-speaking atmospheric sound admittedly is hard work, so you have to let whole swathes of the story wash over you.
In short then this strange bleak vision of a society gone to pot makes uncomfortable viewing bit it is also an experience you will long remember.
Plays at ICA and Curzon Bloomsbury until May 28Last modified: June 9, 2021