A temperamental old woman, her Cape Verdean maid, and a socially-conscious neighbor live on the same floor of a Lisbon apartment complex. When the old lady falls ill, the other two learn of an outlandish episode from her youth: a story of love and crime set in Africa.
Miguel Gomes’s dazzling two-pronged tribute to old age, memory, & classic cinema is a bewitching, often funny journey with an atmosphere all its own. Like the ingenious Arabian Nights, Tabu is nearly impossible to categorize, but one thing’s for certain: it’s an arthouse high point of the 2010s.
I love Tabu. It seems like it has been joyfully jerry-rigged to represent all that is most wonderful in contemporary cinema. It is supremely global, though two key influences also have a Portuguese connection. The big one is Ruiz. But earlier Ruiz, primarily. Then, almost completely unrelated, Pedro Costa, I suspect consciously, in the first half. The split-in-two structure and use of sound also invoke Apichatpong.
Watched it for the fifth or sixth time last night and could go on about it for hours. The cut to Aurora's face when Ventura starts telling the story is still the most shiver-inducing transition. Ghosts from the past suddenly reemerge, probably more beautiful than they originally have been, but that's life and memory for you. One of the best films of this century.
I could hate this with my bearing as a kid growing up in a third world country. To put it aside, everything in this film is mesmerizing; the cast, the music, the narration, the color, all appear on its best to retell the story of forbidden and unspeakable romance. It managed to have style and effective story telling in balance. So neat.
Poetry, voice over orgasms and photography - the three step flow of this film. Gomes builds a very grown up cinema, getting a lot of work done in 2 hours. Every scene is delightful, and every second you get deeper and deeper on his jungle dream. Tabu is a dreamy work of cinema as a form of art.
Tabu requires patience, but the 2nd half beautifully explores the construction of memory and identity. At times slow, but more often hypnotizing and mysterious. Gomes' film is all the more rich because of his ability to subtly capture the reverberations of Europe's colonial past. For instance, one cannot avoid the irony of Aurora telling Santa she is imprisoned by a monster. I yearned for more as the credits rolled.
Occasionally uneven but still an interesting and unusual melodrama with stunning cinematography and sound design –- somehow it made me think about Apichatpong Weerasethakul films, which really really pleased me.
Slow to start but growing increasingly mesmerizing, Tabu interweaves the past with the present in a beautifully warm tale of tragic love and colonialism in Portugal and Africa. With a rich film grain and low contrast palette it's experimental in form and at a certain point begins to recrudesce and capture a sense of old silent-era cinema. Recommended 3.5 stars
In awe. In love. Watching this film was like reading a novel on a rainy day with lightning outside with a stunning visual bonus. Beautiful.