Tabu - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Tabu Reviews

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½ May 19, 2016
Tabu succeeds as a documentary, but not so much as a drama because its visuals are fantastic with a mesmerizing scenery and gorgeous black-and-white photography and it has its heart and charm, but it is unfortunately too slow and at times boring and its first part is so unnecessary and so inferior to the second one. All of those reasons led to this Portuguese film being a slow, but still an original and unique experience.
April 24, 2016
A simple story which unravels slowly. The presentation and the stylish is what makes the movie great. The narration, the monochrome cinematography, the silent movie sequences, just keep adding depth to the movie. Does leave you with a smile in the end.
Super Reviewer
February 17, 2016
With a gorgeous black-and-white cinematography and an impressive thematic rigor, this is a welcome surprise of tremendous poetry, a film that confronts frustration and memory in a lyrical homage to silent movies accompanied by an extremely haunting narration.
January 1, 2016
Pure poetry! Loved every frame!
½ April 26, 2015
strange film hard to classify
½ April 11, 2015
A quiet masterpiece!
February 7, 2015
I don't think any of the short write-ups do this film justice. There is so much to ponder, to experience, to discover in both halves of the film. It will definitely provoke great discussion.
Super Reviewer
April 14, 2014
A beautiful dicotomy of visual poetry and lyricism that evokes powerful feelings of nostalgia, romance and emotional connection to the irrational passions of the characters and an exotic connection to foreign lands, Tabu shows an impeccable versatility from the scope of Miguel Gomes, and the final product is a marvel to behold and seems like a film made by two entirely different directors.

The second half particularly shares an important number of silent cinema traits, from the filming style to the reactions and physiognomy of the characters, which irremediably forces us to think about Murnau's legendary art pieces. With a great score and soundtrack and an expert cinematography, we are taken to two different worlds, not only separated by distance but also by time, inviting us to share the feelings evoked by the distant images and the voiceover guiding us to build an own judgment.

I am a sucker for this kind of dramas which places two white (most of the times wealthy) characters that are in love with each other put against the backdrop of a distant native territory while facing their own romantic impulses. Yet, Gomes allows the story to flow smoothly and takes the appearance of a humble love letter rather than a Hollywood melodrama, therefore surpassing any of the prolonged epic romances that Meryl Streep had during the 80s and 90s, including Africa.

Winner of the FIPRESCI Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival, Tabu revives your classic story set in foreign lands as a tribute to the work of an old German master through what has been mentioned above: visual poetry and lyricism. For some odd reason, this feels much more like the product of Latin America during the 60s.

April 13, 2014
Tabu (2012) - 8

How to say ... two stories? Or a monumentally long prelude before the story? Regardless of perspective, I think there's good reason for us to dwell so much time in the quotidian of three ladies, to know Aurora. To know one of the links that connect the two halves of the narrative (or anti-narrative), this senile and insecure woman, prone to fits of delirium and eccentricity who has, as a vestige of past times, a black maid, Santa, that somehow manages to put up with Aurora. Maybe Santa puts up with Aurora because she feels for her a much higher degree of compassion than we do. But old age eventually reclaims Aurora's life, and so appears Gian-Luca Ventura, the other link, to chronicle the Paradise. The memoir of a sad love story, visceral, reckless and adventurous love between Aurora and Ventura held decades ago in the bleak landscape of a former Portuguese colony in Africa. A love story that, by its sheer turmoil, had the unfortunate consequence of triggering the Portuguese Colonial War. Paradise lends another depth and color to Aurora's character and, in the end, it's impossible not to have the slightest compassion for her.

The slowness and monotony of the first half might discourage the least patient, but it pays off to endure to the end with "Tabu". Miguel Gomes, Portuguese filmmaker, forged a movie gifted with cinematic beauty as ravishing as the love story itself, the clean, modern and direct nature of Paradise Lost contrasts with the dreamlike and nostalgic enchantment of Paradise, as if those were two completely different worlds (or films). The reward is immense both for the strokes of cinematic genius revealed by Miguel Gomes and for the feeling of having contemplated, over a lifetime, the memory or dream of someone. Amidst all this, the significance of Pilar's role, the other main character of Paradise Lost, becomes incognito to me. The prominent attention given to her persona seems inconsequent, all in all, she is little more than a spectator, just like us ... maybe the director actually wanted to allude us through Pilar, an intriguing reading which boosts even more my impetus to re-watch this film. This is a singular work in the context of Contemporary Cinema which pays tribute to the old B&W Classic Cinema. Wonderful art house film, highly recommended!
February 17, 2014
A free-floating portraiture of a melancholy melodrama. A film that I will confess I do not understand, but that I love nonetheless. It manages to fuse traditional and unconventional techniques into a singular and cohesive piece of visual mood and storytelling. Its all about the atmosphere. Within the hazy narrative lies a deep emotional core. I think the crocodile is the key -- lurking just beneath the surface and peeking just the top of its head up into the air.
January 31, 2014
A seemingly endless stream of slightly loose Wes Anderson style whimsy. A story is told, but it's rather insubstantial, and the director only cares for amassing fluffy and disparate allegorical motifs, with a wilful disinterest in consistency and depth, and let's not get started on the naive soft-focus romanticisation of colonialism. A first half of uninvolving melodrama is followed by a period of Mills and Boon, and finally a closing act of pulp tragedy. Trivial and frivolous escapism-lite for middle-class hipsters and infinite-scroll Pinterest fans, with nothing very much to think about beyond frantic movie trope box ticking. If I've entirely missed the point then I think that's completely the fault of the feel-good melancholia, and possibly some smugness that went over my head too. If only it had made me care, at least for a moment! I really can't say I hated it, I just didn't get very much out of it at all. Was it all nostalgia? A sentimental ode to memories of innocent childhood interpretations of black and white silent movies? To be completely fair there were hints of interesting characters at times, but they remained undeveloped, always to be lost in a fire hose deluge of ephemera and twee novelty.
January 11, 2014
mooie film in zwart wit. gezien oosterwolde 11/1
November 28, 2013
This has a very heavy style alongside an equally heavy script so you've got to be in the mood for this kind of slow reflective drama, what you'll find is a deep personal story.
November 14, 2013
It's not common to find Portuguese film, and a good one like Tabu. A disturbing story about a forbidden love filmed in B&W.
½ November 3, 2013
Slow, colorless, too long and pensive critic-bait. "Werckmeister Harmonies" from Portugal.
Super Reviewer
November 3, 2013
After a lonely old woman dies in Lisbon, her ex-lover tells of their tempestuous affair in colonial Africa in a dialogue-free flashback. The second half of the film is a stylistically appealing melodrama, but the first hour is slow, emotionally flat, and basically unnecessary.
October 28, 2013
Doesn't sound like a storyline I'd like to watch.
October 9, 2013
Deja vu story; unfamiliar narrative; not a particularly good one though.
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