Sunday, 24 June 2012

EIFF 2012: Tabu

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.

An unconventional 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.

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