Tabu

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Acclaimed Portuguese director Miguel Gomes (Our Beloved Month of August) fashions one of the most sumptuous, eccentric and boldly original films of the year in Tabu, a desperately romantic love story filtered through old age and the remembered past. This two-part tale centers on Aurora, shown first as an impulsive, cantankerous elderly woman in present-day Lisbon. When Aurora is hospitalized, she sends her neighbor, Pilar, to pass word of her grave condition to Gian Luca, a man of whom no one has ever heard her speak. Pilar’s quest to fulfill her friend’s wish transports us to Africa fifty years earlier, before the start of the Portuguese Colonial War. We see Aurora again, this time as the gorgeous, smoldering young wife of a wealthy young farmer, involved in a forbidden and destructive love affair with Gian Luca, her husband’s best friend. Their moving, poetic tale is conveyed through the older Gian Luca’s suave voiceover, combined with the lush, melodious sounds of its heady, tropical setting, peppered with a soundtrack of Phil Spector songs. Shot in gorgeous black and white (on both 35mm and 16mm film stock) and referencing the silent film traditions of F.W. Murnau (among others), Tabu is a swooning celebration of pure cinema. (Dir. by Miguel Gomes, 2012, Portugal, in Portuguese with subtitles, 118 mins., Not Rated, Adopt Films) Digital