A great 50s love affair is recalled today in this heady, playful and inimitably Portuguese romantic drama. Stars Ana Moreira and Carloto Cotta are incandescent. “It’s simply glorious – giddy and pulse-quickening.” — The Telegraph
Screened as part of NZIFF 2012
A great love affair and a long-lost world are recalled as if caught in a 50s newsreel in this heady, beguiling and inimitably Portuguese film.
After a quick fable concerning an alligator, Tabu begins in a drab apartment in modern Lisbon. Lonely middle-aged Pilar worries about her elderly neighbour Aurora, a tetchy grande dame apt to run amok at the casino. With her dire suspicions of her black maid and demented dreams of demon monkeys, she’s a handful. A mysterious old man, Gianluca, summoned to Aurora’s deathbed, explains the monkeys. His melodious voice recounts the headlong affair he and Aurora shared many years earlier, when Aurora was a famous big game hunter and married to a man with a large estate in Portuguese Africa.
The language is poetic, beautifully rendered in the subtitles; the story full of drama, complications and eccentric asides, not least Gianluca’s band covering Phil Spector hits. Gomes shifts the visual register from the flat realism of the first half to catch past events, both public and searingly private, in beautifully grained B&W images that suggest a 50s ‘Life in the Colonies’ newsreel found in a Portuguese Embassy film library. As the young lovers, Ana Moreira and Carloto Cotta are incandescent, vintage movie romance incarnate. — BG
“Nothing about the somewhat daunting reputation of Portuguese auteur Miguel Gomes [Our Beloved Month of August, NZIFF09] prepared me for the winking bliss of Tabu… His cinematic playfulness and coy referentiality (‘She had a farm in Africa’) are conduits to long-lost feeling, to a faraway rapture… It’s simply glorious – giddy and pulse-quickening.”— Tim Robey, The Telegraph