Tabu

Tabu

Bearing the same title as F. W. 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 yet 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, 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. 3.7 out of 5 based on 11 reviews
Tabu

Omniscore:

Certificate
Genre Drama
Director Miguel Gomes
Cast Laura Soveral, Ana Moreira, Teresa Madruga
Studio New Wave Films
Release Date September 2012
Running Time 118 mins
 

Bearing the same title as F. W. 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 yet 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, 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.

Reviews

The Independent

Anthony Quinn

Gomes handles this intermingling of past and present with a humane and steady gaze, and in the character of Aurora reminds us that the old – those relics – were once as wild and alive as the young.

07/09/2012

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The Daily Telegraph

Tim Robey

We’re lucky if a single Tabu arrives each year: a film that knows cinema inside out, and uses it to work pure magic. If you can resist the last hour of this ravishing two-part saga of amour fou, unveiled to critical hosannahs in Berlin, you may need a thorough health check. It’s the absolute quintessence of movie romance.

06/09/2012

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Time Out

Ben Walters

Evoking work as disparate as that of Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Guy Maddin and Claire Denis – with a dash of ‘The Artist’ thrown in – ‘Tabu’ is a tantalising trip.

05/09/2012

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The Times

Kate Muir

An elliptical, evocative film, shot in grainy black and white, Tabu traces a lost romance from modern-day Lisbon deep into Portugal’s colonial past in Africa ... the scenes set in what might be Angola or Mozambique in the Sixties drip with nostalgia and heat.

07/09/2012

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Total Film

Carmen Gray

This blend of tongue-in-cheek exoticism and desire so strong it makes crocodiles melancholic amply rewards your patience.

28/08/2012

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The Guardian

Peter Bradshaw

All of the film is in black and white, but this shift into the past is accompanied with a new aged-up graininess, a quasi-silent movie. There is no dialogue, but rather a narrative voiceover from the older Ventura. It is a self-conscious conceit, but carried off elegantly. Gomes, if he wanted, could have made the Lisbon section in colour, and the mono-chrome shift would have been even more dramatic. But his concern is to be more subtle than that, a counterweight to the melodrama. It is not just about the transgression itself, but its muted buildup and low-key after effects.

06/09/2012

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The Independent on Sunday

Jonathan Romney

The romance of Aurora and Ventura (Carloto Cotta) could be another ancient movie melodrama, like the one that opens the film – or perhaps this is just how film-lover Pilar imagines the story as it's narrated to her. But Tabu isn't a straight pastiche of silent cinema. For one thing, Miguel Gomes plays fast and loose with his soundtrack, erasing people's voices, while being selective about background sounds. In one scene, people dive into a swimming pool, but we never hear a splash, although we do hear birdsong.

09/09/2012

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The Sunday Times

Edward Porter

It struck me as essentially inert.

09/09/2012

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The Scotsman

Alistair Harkness

Tabu has been picking up plenty of acclaim on the festival circuit this year for challenging narrative convention. It’s too bad then that the silent cinema-influenced conceit – enriched by the fact that the film is shot in black-and-white in the old square-shaped Academy ratio – eventually feels more like a superficial trick than a dramatically engaging storytelling choice. That’s partly because the dual stories of lost love and regret it’s supposed to be underscoring feels fairly humdrum.

06/09/2012

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The Observer

Philip French

Naively simplistic in its narrative, opaque in its politics, the movie's appeal is hard to understand.

09/09/2012

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The Financial Times

Antonia Quirke

Long and pensive – preoccupied, even – there are times when you feel the whole thing is better listened to than watched.

06/09/2012

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