La Tribu movie review: Fernando Colomo's Netflix film is cold and emotionless for the most part

Bhaskar Chattopadhyay

Dec 08, 2018 14:48:24 IST


Fernando Colomo’s new comedy film La Tribu (The Tribe) joins the somewhat 'overcrowded' library of Netflix Originals this year. I take the liberty of using that particular term here because as with the film in question itself, an abnormally large share of the movies in this vast catalogue seems to have failed to strike a chord with the audiences. Like many of its predecessors, Colomo’s film too begins with a premise that I was willing to invest in, but at the end of it, I felt thoroughly let down.

A still from La Tribu. YouTube

A still from La Tribu. YouTube

Fidel, a corporate top honcho working as the head of human resources at a multinational firm, has served pink slips to a large number of employees overnight. There are massive protests by people who have lost their jobs outside his office. But Fidel is least bothered and is engaged in an act of passion with a colleague in the same office. Karma gets back at him when he suddenly realises that he is caught in a highly unusual occurrence of 'penis captivus.' The resulting scandal ruins his career in a matter of minutes and he becomes a viral sensation for all the wrong reasons. Fidel contemplates suicide but his therapist urges him to meet his biological mother, who he has never seen before and who had put him up for adoption after a case of unplanned teenage pregnancy many years ago. Before he can meet his mother though, Fidel throws himself in front of a moving bus. The collision does not kill him, but he loses his memory partially. It is now up to his long lost mother to get her son’s life back on track, and in order to do this, she takes the help of a group of friends that she goes to dance class with.

There are several problems with the film which threaten to ruin the general lightheartedness of the overall approach that the director wants to take. The chief among them is the pace. Even the most emotional moments in the film – ones that called for some much-needed and precious moments of stopping and thinking – are rushed to such an extent that the entire effect is ruined. I am not quite sure what the makers achieved by sacrificing depth while making the film – primarily because there is not much of a story to tell either. The entire thing is quite predictable and the only way by which the film could have been made interesting is by slowing things down while still keeping the humour quotient high. But the makers seemed to have believed otherwise.

The other problem which I have with the film is that it lets go of a perfect opportunity to explore the backstories of the members of the dance group – the happy housewives of the titular 'tribe.' Their lives do intertwine with the central flow of the story, but only at a superficial level. They come and go, without really making a substantial individual impact on the relationship between Fidel and his mother, or on the lives of either. It is almost as if their presence in the film was merely a gimmick, a hole that had to be plugged just because it was there. And that, I felt, was a great loss.

The lead actor, Paco Leon, came across as rather uninvested, certainly so when it comes to comedy. He may be a fine dancer, but his comic timing leaves a lot to desire. At the same time, he is never particularly good in the sensitive scenes either. His relationship with the dance troupe's good looking instructor also comes across as one of the most dispassionate tracks of the film.

If there is any saving grace in the film, however, it has got to be the presence of Carmen Machi, who plays the role of Fidel’s mother. She is earnest right from the first scene and throughout the 90-minute length of the film – when she is arguing with her boss as to why she should get a promotion at work, or when she is reprimanding her sons for sitting around on their bums all day long, right down to the scenes when she visibly yearns to make up for all the years she lost with her estranged son. Machi giggles, weeps and dances her way into the audience's hearts. It is her energy that rubs off on the rest of the actors to a great extent. But despite her best efforts, she cannot save this bummer of a script that is cold and emotionless for the most part.


Updated Date: Dec 08, 2018 14:48:24 IST