Friday 12 May, 7.30 - 9.30pm
Tabu, 2012 | Dir.
Miguel Gomes | 1h 58min  

The latest feature from Portuguese auteur Miguel Gomes might look like a forbidding cinemathèque-type item. Actually, it's a gem: gentle, eccentric, possessed of a distinctive sort of innocence – and also charming and funny.
There is plenty of deadpan wit and fun, and Gomes has a love of musical interludes, bringing on a guitar band and just letting them play.
There are two parts, or three if you count the enigmatic prologue introducing us to a certain mysterious crocodile, which may or may not turn out to be the emblem or reincarnation of anguished love. In modern-day Lisbon, a devout middle-aged Catholic woman Pilar (Teresa Madruga) is concerned about her elderly neighbour, the fantastically cantankerous and imperious Aurora – Laura Soveral gives a tremendous performance. She has to be driven home from the casino because she has blown every cent she has on slot machines. It is an addiction which she has inherited from her father, and Gomes shows us that, for all her confusion, the addiction has given her a lively, shrewd sense of life itself being a gamble. In the film's next section, we flashback to Aurora's youth as a beautiful young woman living a kind of White Mischief existence in 70s Portuguese Mozambique and falling in love with handsome adventurer Ventura (Carloto Cotta).
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 (Henrique Espírito Santo). As for the cinephile references, FW Murnau's 1931 film of the same name is one, and Gomes may even be hinting playfully at Sydney Pollack's Out of Africa. Cinephilia gives the film its flavour, but the simple, forthright human drama is what's important.

Review from The Guardian

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