The unique sensation of watching scenes that would usually contain vocal expression becomes eerily unsettling; watching a balletic fight, or a sex scene, in near silence is a thrillingly disarming experience. Where plot and character are the focus, the performances and the steady camera of Valentyn Vasyanovych do all the heavy lifting. Whilst the finer nuances of the sign language will be lost to most audiences, it's always clear what's going on not least through the wonderfully suggestive work by the young cast. Body language, emphasis,or the speed of an exchange soon become quick to comprehend - there's one scene in which two girls argue at a pace that would make Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell go pale. That the plot - an allegory for an abandoned Ukraine left to fight tooth and nail for their survival - follows a fairly conventional path matters not.
It's the very manner of the directorial execution and the resulting power of them that will rightly have jaws dropping, with Vasyanovych's precision camerawork staggering at every turn, pan, and track. Single shots glide in and out of buildings capturing frames that will linger in the memory and compound the already kinetic energy of this remarkable piece. Slaboshpitsky's The Tribe is gripping, tour de force cinema from its opening jab, and from there it continually forces you against the ropes before delivering a knockout punch with a gut-wrenching conclusion destined to leave audiences stunned.
The Tribe featured in CineVue's ‘Best films of 2014’ feature. You can read the full list here