‘The Tribe’ | Netflix Film Review

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: November 29, 2018 (Last updated: December 16, 2023)
The Tribe Netflix Review


If The Tribe was half as funny and charming as it thinks it is, I might charitably describe it as watchable. It mostly doesn’t live up to that distinction.

I’m not entirely sure who a movie like The Tribe is for. The film, which debuted on Netflix last week, is an Italian comedy about a corporate executive who goes viral, becomes an amnesiac, and finds redemption in a group of street-dancing mothers (including his own). In that case it could be for people who like to see privileged dicks be humiliated, or for those clamouring for the energetic empowerment of middle-aged women, or neither, or both. Either way it isn’t very good.

Fidel García Ruiz (Paco León) is the HR director of a typically massive corporation, who earns himself the moniker “Stickyman” thanks to a sexual escapade with a co-worker that makes him a viral sensation. A year later, still relatively distraught, he reunites with his birth mother Virginia (Carmen Machi), endures some more hardship, and unsuccessfully attempts to throw himself under a bus.

Now unable to remember who he is and with a speech impediment that provides at least half of all the film’s jokes, Fidel finds himself involved with his mother’s dance class, mostly because he likes the look of the instructor, Maribel (Maribel del Pino). It should come as no surprise that he turns out to be quite a good dancer or that there’s a talent show coming to town. It also shouldn’t come as much of a shock that most of the appeal of The Tribe gets lost in translation.

Not that there aren’t some vague pleasures to be had here. Carmen Machi does a decent job enlivening The Tribe with a performance that sees her mothering Fidel and her lazy sons Maikel and Elton but also performing sexy urban dance routines, and she’s quite oddly captivating as far as the latter aspect is concerned. But The Tribe gives so much of its runtime over to such routines in the latter half that it can scarcely be considered a comedy at all, and even when it is a comedy, as directed uninspiringly by Fernando Colomo, it’s a rote and rarely funny one.

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