Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy’s Cannes-prized “The Tribe” (Plemya) is a gorgeously wrought provocation about nightmarish violent daily life at a Ukrainian boarding school for deaf youth. Even a third viewing of this unvarnished and passionately unrelenting movie across eight months reveals a filmmaker who cuts little slack, including the unsubtitled local sign language in which the characters communicate. (If this device comprises a gimmick, all on-screen gimmicks ought to be used as audaciously.) Sex, jealousy, revenge and violence are the essential elements of Slaboshpytskiy’s elemental story, cast with nonactors. Slaboshpytskiy and Valentyn Vasyanovych, credited as both cinematographer and editor, alternate between the ragged and the well-wrought, between objet d’art and the incidentally observed, between extended long takes and icy tableaux. And even when the motives are unclear, the intensely gestural performances fascinate. With Grigoriy Fesenko, Yana Novikova, Rosa Babiy. 132m. (Ray Pride)
“The Tribe” opens Friday, July 10 at the Music Box for an extended run.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published later this year.