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Directed by Miguel Gomes
Produced in 2012
Main Language - Portuguese with English subtitles
Countries & Regions - European Film
Ana Moreira, Carloto Cotta, Laura Soveral, Teresa Madruga
A rapturously eccentric delight, Tabu is a beguiling retreat into nature, Portuguese history, and the lingering mysteries of the human heart, writes Mike McCahill.
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.
Mike McCahill on 4th December 2012
Author of 322 reviews
After Our Beloved Month of August, Miguel Gomes returns with Tabu, an engaging, provocative and poetic film set both in Portugal and in an un-named African location.
Bearing the same title as FW Murnau's classic Tabu (1931), shot in black and white and taking place at least partly in a distant land, Gomes' third feature film is divided in two distinctive, complementary storylines.
Whilst the first part, shot in 35mm and in the present time, portrays a society wallowing in nostalgia, the second part, shot in 16mm, goes back in time and plays with history, sound and the concept of linear narration, as well as the ideas of melodrama, slapstick, passion and tragedy. Both parts feature Aurora at two different stages of her life: an older Aurora regrets a past long gone while a younger Aurora dreams of a more passionate life. A virtuoso film, Tabu also offers a reflection on Europe's colonial past.
Publisher: New Wave Films
Length: 118 mins
Format: DVD B&W
Released: 14th January 2013
Cat No: NW041
- Short Films by Miguel Gomes: A Christmas Inventory and 31 Means Trouble.