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Released 7 September 2012
Director Miguel Gomes

Teresa Madruga, Laura Soveral, Ana Moreira, Henrique Espirito Santo, Carloto Cotta
Writer(s) Miguel Gomes, Mariana Ricardo
Producer(s) Sandro Aguilar, Luis Urbano

Portugal, Germany, Brazilm France
Running Time 110 minutes
Genre Drama
Rating TBC

In times past.

It was always going to be interesting to note how many filmmakers would be inspired to expand their horizons following the overwhelming success of The Artist. Down through the years there have been several independent films that have sold their stories in unique, artistic and exceptional ways but, with the mainstream that came with the black-and-white silent Academy Award winner, it was only a matter of time before a fresh batch cropped up. Portuguese director Miguel Gomes, though, is quickly becoming a heralded, contemporary thought-provoker in his own right, with his third feature film Tabu serving up an adventurous reel in terms of both cinematography and presentation.

Divided into two distinct parts, we first follow an elderly, harsh woman named Aurora who is seeing out her dying days in Lisbon. When she becomes hospitalised and it is clear she doesn't have long to live, she implores her neighbour Pilar to find Ventura, an old flame. The second part then transports us back fifty years into Africa and the Colonial War where a young, beautiful Aurora is involved in a love affair with her husband's friend Ventura.

Stylishly crafted, Tabu is filmed in black and white and without doubt there is purpose in that decision. Centred around themes of love, remorse, fantasy and folklore, we are taken through a journey that is often romantic and racy, but always rather sad in the inevitability of old age, regretted decisions and tarnished memories. It is how it is elegantly told, though, that sets it apart from other movies of similar ilk.

Rather than relying on the norm of dialogue, much of the second half of the picture relies solely on an aged Ventura narrating as the scenes of their youth are displayed on screen. With a lot being left up to your own it is almost a metaphor for when you can describe something special in your past but can't quite picture it, or vice versa.

It's definitely a strange film, there's no doubt about that, and to be perfectly honest I wasn't all that sure what to make of it. There are times when you feel like drifting off but the entire viewing experience can be likened to that of a dream anyway. What it does do is invoke emotion and with that Tabu has probably served its purpose.

- David Caulfield