Time Out says
On paper, ‘The Tribe’ sounds like it was dreamt up by the Department for Spoofing World Cinema: it’s Ukrainian, it has no dialogue and, uniquely, all the main characters communicate solely in sign-language (without subtitles).
Those characters are deaf students at the most squalid, dysfunctional boarding school imaginable. They roam the neighbourhood in gangs, unleash acts of extreme violence on each other and pimp out the girls to lorry drivers in truck stops. ‘The Tribe’ artfully explores this world from the perspective of Sergey (Grigoriy Fesenko), a newcomer to this hellish school, who rapidly climbs the ladder of depravity.
Beyond the film-stealing, hypnotic use of sign-language, what we get is a bleak vision of a society gone to pot. The world of ‘The Tribe’ feels like a parable of poverty-induced horror. The film must come with several warnings. It’s extremely disturbing at points (there’s a horrific backstreet abortion scene), and the ‘silence’ (actually, the non-speaking, atmospheric sound takes on a life of its own) is hard work, meaning that you have to let whole swathes of story wash over you. But those same obstacles also give this strange, bleak story a deeply original, hallucinatory power.
Cast and crew