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Film Review - Tabu
by Shelly Schoeneshoefer

Director: Miguel Gomes. Portugal/Germany/Brazil

Winner of the Alfred Bauer Prize at the Berlin Film Festival, this quiet and melancholic film creeps up on you and is packed full of surprises. Like the film The Artist, this film is done in black and white but reminds us of the old adventure stories that took place in Africa. It definitely reminds me of the old Tarzan movies that are as of now one hundred years old. I think it is interesting with all this modern technology that there are still filmmakers who are looking back in time for ideas.

The first half of the film is done in the present where we meet Pilar and her neighbor Aurora.  They appear to be two typical aging Portuguese women living in a high rise complex. Suddenly Aurora gets the calling to play all her money at the casino and unfortunately loses.  Pilar is taken back by her actions and can’t understand her actions.  A few days later Aurora dies and Pilar finds a letter from an old lover and decides to find out who he is and what happened.  This opens the second half of the film which is like opening up Pandora’s Box where we see a completely different side of Aurora when she was young and living in Africa.  Through this beautiful black and white film we see a distant and exotic world which is full of mishaps, secrets and adventure.  The film was interesting but does spend too much time building up the character of Pilar since she is only the person who is hearing the tale and not participating in it but perhaps that is part of the taboo here where Gomes is playing around with points of view and having non-typical things happen in order for us to enter into another world outside our own.