George Huertas ’15 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Speechless. It’s not often that a film renders that effect on me, and yet, here we are.
Miroslav Slaboshpitsky’s new drama, which premiered at Cannes last year, tells the story of a boarding school for deaf children in the Ukraine. Its point of view character is Sergey, an introverted boy with ungodly strength that earns him the attention of a gang of teenagers who operate much in the same way a real Mafiosi group would. Led by a so-called “King,” the gang commits beatings, robberies, smuggles contraband, and pimps out young girls to truckers.
The atmosphere of tension is palpable in The Tribe, the lack of music and dialogue only serving to highlight this fact. What’s left unspoken could fill an entire movie in and of itself. With that lack of dialogue and subtitles, though, Slaboshpitsky is left to convey emotions through his actors’ body language and facial expressions. And all the performances feel the more human and vulnerable as a result. Anna, one of the prostitutes in the film, turns in a particularly heartbreaking performance. In addition to being deaf, she’s also young and attractive, something that makes her all the more a target for victimization in the school’s brutal hierarchy. With an adherence to body language and minimal vocalizations, Yana Novikova turns Anna into the most human, sympathetic character in the film.
This is a brutal film. Unrelenting, bleak, and searing in its depiction of life in the boarding school, there is very little room for hope in these circumstances. The silence of the students in the film is the silence of the suffering. The weak. And those without power. While I doubt I’ll be seeing The Tribe again anytime soon, I also doubt that I’ll soon forget about it.
Overall Grade: A
The Independent Film Festival of Boston runs through April 29th. Visit iffboston.org for more information.