Where The Artist recently resurrected historic filmmaking grammar for laughs, Miguel Gomes’ third feature Tabu parodies with more ambitiously philosophical aims. In an early scene, a tour guide intones “all I’m telling you is not reality, but tales”, allowing the script to highlight its central, redolent theme: the interlaced nexuses between memory, cinema and fable.
and challenging structure splits the film in two: the first part (titled
‘A Lost Paradise’) set in present-day Lisbon; the second (‘Paradise’)
in colonial Africa, with dialogue muted and replaced by an extended
voice over that tells a tale both romantic, yet softly cynical. There
are echoes of Almodovar’s Broken Embraces in Tabu’s
heady mix of melodrama and meta-artistry, while its crisp monochrome
cinematography and Spector-pop soundtrack provide more direct pleasures.
Though the two halves don’t ultimately elicit the depth of profundity
pledged in the early stages, they nonetheless weave a hypnotic and
innovative narrative, rich with enigma.