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Film Details

Directed by: Miguel Gomes

Produced: 2012

Countries & Regions: Brazil, France, Germany, Portugal

DVD Details

Certificate: 15

Length: 118 mins

Format: DVD

Released: 14 January 2013

Cat No: NW041

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Tabu

Cast: Carloto Cotta , Ana Moreira , Teresa Madruga , Laura Soveral , Henrique Espírito Santo , Isabel Muñoz Cardoso , Ivo Müller , Manuel Mesquita

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Miguel Gomes directs this romantic drama, which pays homage to the silent films of F.W. Murnau and Robert J. Flaherty. Filmed in black... Read More

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Miguel Gomes directs this romantic drama, which pays homage to the silent films of F.W. Murnau and Robert J. Flaherty. Filmed in black and white, the film is divided into two parts, the first half takes up the story from the point of view of Pilar (Teresa Madruga), a middle-aged political activist whose neighbour Aurora (Laura Soveral) is a senile old lady with a gambling addiction and a propensity to tell colourful tales about her past in Mozambique. As Aurora’s health starts to decline, she asks Pilar to track down a man called Ventura (Henrique Espírito Santo), with whom she had a passionate affair as a newly-married young woman. The second part of the film details the affair between the beautiful young Aurora (Ana Moreira) and her Portuguese lover (Carloto Cotta), revealing their secret passion that unfolded in Africa over half an century previously.

Director Miguel Gomes’ rapturously photographed, critically adored monochrome oddity establishes its eccentricity with a prologue involving a lovelorn explorer throwing himself to a crocodile, then subdivides into two parts. “A Paradise Lost” unfolds during late 2010 in Lisbon, where devout, politically active fiftysomething Pilar (Teresa Madruga) becomes entwined with Aurora (Laura Soveral), a demanding neighbour drifting into senility. This may be Gomes’ most radical conceit, demonstrating uncommon affinity with women of a certain age sharing stories and fears over tea and cake.

In Part Two, the wordless “Paradise Found”, we learn how the younger Aurora (Ana Moreira), a married adventuress, was seduced by dashing cad Ventura (Carloto Cotta). This section aspires to the glamorous textures of Thirties melodrama, even when everyone begins lipsynching to Ramones tracks that offer puns on the plot. What it amounts to lies in the eye of the beholder, but this gorgeously ephemeral work is never less than beautiful to observe: a measured, quietly beguiling retreat from our world into nature, Portuguese history, and the lingering mysteries of the human heart.

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