The Tribe is mysterious and absurd
Sarah Bellum | Dublin, OH United States | 03/28/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Jamie (Jeremy Northam) is charged by the head of his firm with removing a mysterious group from some property he wants to develop. This `tribe' is a sort of cult, which barricades itself inside a gated mansion in a seedy part of London. Local, would-be hooligans are afraid of this group for no particular reason, especially considering the group is comprised of feeble, malnourished models. To earn a living, the Tribe sells electronic gadgetry on the street. How they obtain the gadgetry in the first place is a bit of a secret, though the group suspects it involves an exchange for sex between a desperate Japanese businessman and their leader, Emily (Joely Richardson). All of this is peripheral to the real crux of the group, which is free love. Jamie penetrates the group (quite literally) in the name of procuring the land that houses the group's fortress, though he finds himself increasingly both enamored of the Tribe's charm and disillusioned by his career ambitions. Made for the Beeb, there are certainly some silly moments, such as several scenes of the group strutting down the street or over meadows in their black robes, or barging into the compound of a competing sect and trying to form an alliance. Nonetheless, this film certainly provides enough mystery and allure to hold one's interest for most of its runtime. I initially wanted to watch it for Kate Isitt (of `Coupling' fame), though her role is very, very small. Not to fret, Northam and Richardson prove to be charming attractions. Anna Friel, however, practically steals the show as the wayward and free-spirited (read: loose) Lizzie. Fans of Jonathan Rhys Meyers probably will not be disappointed to find him fully nude in a couple scenes as well. There is also a series of this show, though I am not familiar with it. The DVD is presented in widescreen and the transfer looks great, though it lacks in all other departments; no subtitles or extras of any sort. This is not rated by the MPAA since it was made for TV, though it is the equivalent of an `R' rating due to full frontal nudity, profanity and a wee bit of violence."
Preachy and a bit silly
Mark Kuykendall | Dallas, Texas United States | 11/09/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I first about this film after reading an interview with Anna Friel and became curious and started searching for a video release. I just happened upon it one day. The story is somewhat contrived and is at its weakest when it tries to preach non-conformity and freedom of choice among the young people, when ultimately they realize the only choices they have are different types of confirmity. That probably makes no sense, but now you how I felt after watching this movie. And hey, Anna Friel looks great naked."
Under-played and under-rated
Dr. James Austin | Auckland, New Zealand | 12/07/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Like many, I first became aware of this made-for-TV movie due to all the hype over Anna Friel's nude scene. And if that's what you want to watch it for, well, you'll get what you want, and very pretty it is too. But after that, there's actually a very engaging story.
*Slight Spoilers Ahead*
The gist of the story is that Jamie (Jeremy Northam) is tasked by his overbearing boss with driving out the legitimate tenants of a building that the boss wishes to redevelop. The tenants appear to be some sort of cult: they stride around as a group in black-trenchcoat style (remember, this was released a year before The Matrix), are feared by the local ruffians, and make their living selling top-of-the-range electronic goods at criminally cheap prices. Jamie sets out to discover their secret: are they indeed criminals, are they a religious cult, are they into drugs, or what? And the secret is - that there is no secret. The movie is essentially about the gently charismatic and well-intentioned Emily (Joely Richardson) who sets up a community with a different way of life. There are no drugs; the goods are obtained legitimately from a Japanese businessman who has a crush (either romantic or ideological) on Emily; and while there is a certain sexual freedom (that gives Ms Friel the opportunity for her legendary scene), it is by no means a sex cult.
What the community offers its members more than anything else is safety; safety built on an illusion maintained by Emily. When this illusion starts to crack, so does the community - and so, to some extent, does Emily herself. Astute at puncturing the image of a rival 'cult' leader, she fails to realise when she is about to do the same to herself. It is left to Jamie to try and salvage something of the utopia he thinks he's found.
More than anything else, this movie reminded me of The Beach; although very different in tone and setting, it comes across as a study of an alternative community combating the alienation and insecurities of modern urban life. More importantly, it describes the key people in the community, and their reactions to the pressures both of 'the real world' and of human nature. It drew me in not by unexpected plot twists, but by unexpectedly avoiding plot twists; although the story is engaging, it's more a portrait movie than plot-driven, and many loose ends and back-stories are left deliberately untied and unfilled without detracting from the overall pleasure of it.
There's nothing spectacular about the acting, directing, or camera-work; it's all subtle, understated and simply allows the story to unfold. Rather like a Greek tragedy, only the central character has any great depth, and Joely Richardson does a superb job of bringing her to life.
I enjoyed this movie much more than I expected; it's a great pity it has still only been released in Region 1 (US) and not in its native UK. It's original, it's thought-provoking, and I thoroughly recommend it."
A Hidden Gem
Becky Sharp | England | 04/07/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Tribe is that rarest of films, one that demands its audience's attention all the way through. It is also typical Poliakoff so do not expect a neat, Hollywood ending.
Do not let this put you off as the acting, particularly from Jeremy Northam and Anna Friel, is superb. You feel really involved with the character of Jamie (Northam) and experience his series of revelations along with him. Well worth buying if you want to be engaged with the characters and not just drip-fed. If you liked Cypher, you should enjoy this. If you have not seen either, I thoroughly recommend you get both!"