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The Tribe

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgas..., Common Sense Media
The Tribe Movie Poster Image
Offbeat Spanish comedy about a sex scandal has cursing.
  • NR
  • 2018
  • 90 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Admitting past errors is the first step toward redemption. With good people offering support, anyone is capable of improving.
 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Fidel is introduced as a someone who cheats on his wife, does so with an intern, and does it flagrantly in his office while people he just fired protest outside. By the end of the movie, a memory loss and hanging around decent, hard-working people changes him for the better. Virginia is competent, warm, empathetic, and generous. She regrets having given up the baby she had at age 16. Two laid-off brothers lie around their mother's house, mooching for a year, refusing to get jobs.

Violence

A fired worker pours water on the head of the executive who was in charge of his company's layoffs. A depressed man walks in front of a bus to end it all. He falls and sustains a concussion and memory loss.

Sex

Fidel sits at his desk, being mounted by his intern. They are clothed and breathing heavily. Disturbed by sounds outside, they decide to stop but, unable to uncouple, they are removed by hospital gurney -- still attached to each other -- while onlookers shoot video. Fidel is in the shower when his pretty dance instructor walks into what she thinks is the empty men's locker room. She begins to strip (no nudity seen) and the still-clueless Fidel is frightened by the erection that ensues off screen. Like a child, he shows her and she explains that it's normal. A 16-year-old has a baby and gives the child up for adoption because she can't afford to care for it. Bare bottom.

 

Language

"F--k," "s--t," "bastard," "bitch," "ass," and "damn."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Someone recounts that two loafers were caught selling hashish.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Tribe, a Spanish-language film with subtitles, has positive messages about apologizing for wrong-doing, making amends when possible, and never giving up. There's a sex scene (clothed), a bared bottom, a reference to an off-screen erection, and moderate use of "f--k," "s--t," and other language. A 16-year-old has a baby and gives the child up for adoption because she can't afford to care for it. A man cheats on his wife with an intern. A depressed man walks in front of a bus to end it all. He falls and sustains a concussion and memory loss. Someone recounts that two loafers were caught selling hashish.

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What's the story?

THE TRIBE opens as Spanish human resources executive Fidel (Paco Leon) has sex in his upper floor office with an intern while the 300 people he's recently fired noisily protest in the streets below. The distraction makes it impossible for them to finish, but they find themselves unable to uncouple. They are wheeled out together, still attached, on a gurney, with his bare posterior in the air as coworkers video the departure. The spectacle goes viral, complete with a song and a humiliating nickname -- Stickyman. This ruins his career, marriage, and reputation. After a year of laying low, Fidel's therapist insists he find his birth mother, Virginia (Carmen Machi), a hotel cleaning woman who had him at 16 and gave him away. The meeting goes awry. Depressed, disgusted, and uninterested in his mother, he deliberately walks in front of a moving bus as she watches. The suicide fails but someone snatches his backpack and ID, so when he loses his memory, his vocabulary, and much of his understanding of the world, no one can figure out who he is. Virginia takes him to her tiny apartment, where her two younger sons have been mooching since the firing. Unable to leave Fidel alone, or in the care of her selfish younger sons, Virginia drags Fidel to the dance class she shares with her best friends, known as "the mommies." Fidel shows amazing aptitude at dancing and great enthusiasm for the pretty dance instructor (Maribel del Pino). Struggling with simple words and ideas, Fidel is childlike and uncensored, apt to call people "ugly" or "smelly," which makes for lots of comic moments. But he seems generally sweet and kind, so when Virginia learns who Fidel used to be -- a high-ranking corporate executive who did terrible harm -- she hasn't the heart to tell him. Fidel's biological father, Luciano (Luis Bermejo), gives Fidel a job stocking groceries at his store and is amazed to find that while Fidel has trouble speaking in full sentences, his mathematics, computer, and marketing skills are highly developed. "The mommies" earn a spot on a national talent show, with Fidel as their token male dancer, and he is outed on live television, a revelation he handles with grace and contrition. His memory returns, he owns up to the monster he once was, and tries to do better.    

Is it any good?

This movie is adorable, funny, touching, and instructive. If not for the opening sex scandal, Fidel's bared bottom, and a smattering of adult language, The Tribe would be a wonderful movie to be shared by families. Social divisions created by lack of education, economic deprivation, and the luck of a person's circumstances of birth are all part of the movie's socially-conscious subtext, but no ideology gets in the way of the humanity and decency at its heart. As Fidel retrieves the memory of the bad man he once was, he expresses the shame he feels for having been willing to do anything for money, including ruining the lives of his company's workers. He becomes openly grateful for having the chance to learn from his mother's dance class, a group filled with "mommies" of all shapes and backgrounds -- a cop, a cleaning lady -- who dance not for money but for love, passion, camaraderie, and mutual support.

Leon is a fabulous comic actor and amazing dancer, utterly believable as a man recovering from brain injury who can't conjure ordinary words, or call up the way the practical world works. Machi plays his mother as a sprightly fountain of wisdom, empathy, and patience. And she is a force of nature on the dance floor as well.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what it means to live a good life. Do you think Fidel comes to redefine what it means to be successful after he meets his biological mother and her friends? What are the indications that he has changed?

  • Fidel was successful in his job, but he didn't care about people as much as he cared about money. What other movies have this same premise?

  •  

  • The Tribe shows the consequences of a viral video on a man's life. Do you think it's realistic? Why or why not?

Movie details

For kids who love to laugh

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