When I received a free ticket to see Tabu, I was intrigued by the movie. It’s a story about Aurora, a Portuguese lady who had a farm in Africa, on the foothill of Mount Tabu. Aurora is a carefree lady who had an affair with Gian Luca Ventura a debonair traveller. Gian Luca is a band member who wanted to escape a string of one night stands in Europe – only to fall head over heels with another married woman. There is a sense of similarity with Out of Africa – both featuring a restless strong-willed woman who finds love in the arms of a free-spirited man. However, the parallel stops there.
Tabu is a unique movie that is made in the style of black-and-white movie of a long gone era. The movie is divided into two parts – the first part centres around Aurora (Laura Soveral) at the present time, estranged from her daughter and living with a live-in helper, Santa (Isabel Muñoz Cardoso). She relies a lot on on Pilar (Teresa Madruga), a compassionate neighbour – a religious but intensely lonely woman. The second part tells the story of the young Aurora (Ana Moreira) and how she met Gian Luca (Carloto Cotta) in Africa.
Watching Tabu is like putting all great ingredients into a slow-cooker – it takes a long time for the flavours to combine together into a mellow, lingering taste. It takes a little bit of getting used to – but once you acquire a taste of the story, you let the story spread its tentacles around you and draw you in. Because of the black and white movie, you notice different textures and shades on the screen – and because dialogues are quite sparse, you fill in the blanks through the music and through the expressions of the characters’ faces. Tabu is a sad, melancholic movie, but never sorrowful or soppy. I thought I wouldn’t like the movie after watching it for the first fifteen minutes, but at the end, I let myself be carried through the story.