Tabu is the story of two parts, one set in contemporary Portugal and one set nearly 50s years earlier in colonial Africa. In the first part we are introduced to Aurora, an old, cantankerous woman living in present-day Lisbon with her estranged daughter who is never around. We are shown Aurora's daily life, her routine, and we being to see how much she regrets her mundane existence. Her closest thing to a companion lies in Pilar, the next door neighbor, and Santa, the servant of Aurora's household. When Aurora is hospitalized and approaching death, she asks for Pilar to locate Gian Luca, a man which Aurora has never mentioned before. In searching and finding Gian, we are transported back to colonial Africa, in which Gian, shares him and Aurora's story of forbidden love. Miguel Gomes' Tabu is a beautiful experience that can best be described as a poetic tale of life and love, as generic as that may sound. The film is shot in a beautiful black and white aesthetic which alternates between a crisp, high contrast scheme in the contemporary segment to a more hazy black and white aesthetic, which no doubt mirrors silent films from the 20s. The beginning of the Tabu feels almost like a mystery, with really no inclination as to what this story is really about. Pilar is the character who the audience relies on, being the eyes and ears of this story of Aurora and Gian. The second half is really when things become clear and the film becomes incredibly poetic, as Gian himself narrates this tale of love. The whole thing is handled extremely delicately, touching on some extremely resonant emotions about love which I would hope/imagine almost anyone could relate too. Gian and Aurora are tortured souls whose love they share for each other is pure, yet they are tortured by their perceived crimes against both her husband and god. Gomes never gives his opinion on this type of situation, merely letting the film play out, capturing the poetic sadness of this story which ultimately leaves the two of them apart. Some may criticize the films opaque vision towards the politics but I personally found this intentional, as while it is touched on, I believe that any more of dissection would have severely hurt the bigger, more important themes of this unique love story. Miguel Gomes' Tabu is a brilliantly nuanced film that touches on romance, eroticism, and longing, and while it takes a little time to get going, patience is certainty rewarded.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.