A love story told in two unique parts, ‘Tabu’ is, quite simply, a film unlike anything you’ve ever seen.Deftly moving between contemporary Portugal, colonial Africa and the landscape of dreams, director Miguel Gomes conjures an enthralling story of obsession, memory and dangerous forbidden romance.
In part one, ‘Paradise Lost’, we follow the seemingly ordinary daily life of a devout Lisbon woman, Pilar (Teresa Madruga) and her attempts to support and console her extravagant and bitter neighbour Aurora (Laura Soveral), who spends her day gambling at the local casino and whose grip on reality is clearly becoming tenuous; she’s convinced her stoic maid Santa is secretly practicing voodoo spells against her. When Aurora’s health takes a turn, a stranger is summoned to her deathbed and it gradually transpires this man is Gian Luca, the love of her life from the distant past. His confession to Pilar of their doomed youthful affair forms the basis of the film’s second extraordinary chapter, ‘Paradise’, set 50 years prior at an African farm in the foothills of Mount Tabu…
Playfully interpreting and rearranging history, Gomes’ film is somehow both technically and narratively subversive and yet inescapably romantic, in no small way thanks to the sensuous black and white cinematography and incredible score and sound design. Where part one portrays a society wallowing in nostalgia, the second propels a dramatic shift in tone and emotional power, delivering everything the characters – and we – may dream of, and live for.
Runtime: 113 minutes