THE TRIBE/PLEMYA ★★★★★
Directed by Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy. Starring Grigoriy Fesenko, Yana Novikova, Rosa Babiy, Alexander Dsiadevich, Yaroslav Biletskiy, Club, IFI; The Light House, Dublin, 130 min
We hear a lot of blather about pure cinema: sometimes around this parish. Every now and then somebody suggests a director may have re-invented the medium. Push the idle chatter from your mind. Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy’s stunning Ukrainian film really does live up to such vaunting promises. Like the best adventures in formal experiment – think Aleksandr Sokurov’s one-shot Russian Ark or Chris Marker’s unmoving La Jetée – The Tribe sets itself a challenge and allows the resulting limitations to enhance the creative experience.
Cast largely with non-professional actors, Slaboshpytskiy’s film brings us among the students at a run-down school for the deaf in Ukraine.
This is the old story of the initially nervous inductee who eventually becomes master of a hitherto hostile environment. Sergey (Grigoriy Fesenko) discovers that his classmates are running a crime ring that, among other activities, involves selling their female classmates’ bodies to lorry drivers. Following a few initiation rites, Sergey finds himself carrying out low-level tasks. His developing relationship with Anna (Yana Novikova) – consummated explicitly in damp, chilly environments – soon triggers