Film Review: Tabu (2013)

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Occasion: Girls’ Night Out

Anticipation: Medium

Overall rating


Tabu is a two part fairytale about loneliness, growing old burdened with regrets, forbidden love and a baby crocodile.


In part 1, ‘Paradise Lost’, Pilar (Madruga), an attentive but lonely woman living in Lisbon, is concerned for the health of her elderly neighbour, eccentric Aurora (Moreira).


Part 2, ‘Paradise’ tells of a love affair that could not be, set against the tumultuous and wild backdrop of 1960s Africa. Strutting through glowing grassland, a young Aurora is a now shown as a colonial warrior princess: rifle in hand, white hunting suit immaculate. Colonialism itself is an almost irrelevant chorus player in this sensuous story.


The film is mostly narrated and it feels as if we are leafing through a gloriously illustrated storybook, rather than a watching a film. Shot in sumptuous black and white 4:3 format, dialogue is often completely muted, leaving our skin prickling with the tension and emotion flooding from the powerful performances of the cast.


Lingering shots and delicious lighting make even the most mundane moments – like Santa eating prawns – a thing of beauty. But this film is also possessed by a warm and subtle humour, with absurd sequences making the surreal real.


I loved  Tabu. Everything about this film is beautiful.


Movie vitals:




Directed by Miguel Gomes


Starring Teresa Madruga, Laura Soveral, Ana Moreira, Carloto Cotta and Isabel Muñoz Cardoso

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