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A restless retired woman teams up with her deceased neighbor's maid to seek out a man who has a secret connection to her past life as a farm owner at the foothill of Mount Tabu in Africa.
For more about Tabu and the Tabu Blu-ray release, see the Tabu Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on January 22, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Teresa Madruga, Laura Soveral, Ana Moreira
Director: Miguel Gomes
» See full cast & crew
Tabu Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, January 22, 2013
Winner of Alfred Bauer Award and FIPRESCI Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival, Portuguese director Miguel Gomes' "Tabu" (2012) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors New Wave Films. The supplemental features on the disc include an original theatrical trailer and two early short films directed by Miguel Gomes. In Portuguese, with optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
The film is divided into two large parts. In the first, which is called "A Lost Paradise", three elderly women occasionally spend time together. The first, Aurora (Laura Soveral, True and Tender Is the North), is a compulsive gambler who has lost practically all of her valuable possessions. She lives in a small apartment somewhere on the outskirts of Lisbon.
Santa (Isabel Cardoso) is a black woman who has been Aurora's maid for years. The two women have grown tired of each other and nowadays communicate only when they must. But Santa still likes to take care of Aurora. Early into the film, when Aurora loses everything in the local casino, even her taxi money, Santa arranges a ride home for her.
The third woman is Pilar (Teresa Madruga, Two Drifters), Aurora's neighbor. Pilar lives alone but from time to time goes out with a kind man her age that has fallen in love with her. She enjoys his company but is unsure if she loves him. Occasionally, the man gives her beautiful paintings.
"A Lost Paradise" ends when Aurora becomes seriously ill and is taken to the hospital. Feeling very weak and having difficulty breathing, Aurora summons a stranger (Henrique Espírito Santo, Isle of Contempt) to her bedside.
The second part, "Paradise", begins in an unnamed Portuguese colony in Africa in the early '60s. The stranger quietly explains that this was the place where he first met Aurora (Ana Moreira, The Portuguese Nun). She was young, beautiful and married to a wealthy and well respected man (Ivo Müller). She loved to hunt and watch the beautiful sunsets.
The stranger (Carloto Cotta, To Die Like a Man), who at the time was a member of an ambitious band, fell in love with Aurora and the two started spending time together when her husband was away. Then she became pregnant and they ran away. But not too far away from Mount Tabu, they had to stop.
Paying tribute to F.W. Murnau's legendary Tabu (1931), Miguel Gomes's film is like an unusually long and beautiful dream. At times it is slow and relaxed, other times vivid and moving quickly through different events. The second part of the film is entirely without dialog. Instead, the man next to Aurora's bed calmly narrates her story.
Shot entirely in black and white (16mm printed on 35mm), Tabu reminds of many of Hollywood's greatest silent films. The camera moves slowly and the framing is very precise. In "Paradise", light and shadow are also captured in a very specific way.
Light ambient and retro tunes occasionally compliment the stunningly beautiful images. The music gradually makes its presence felt and then nonchalantly disappears. The effect is great, further enhancing the film's dream-like atmosphere.
The acting is terrific. In "Paradise", the cast relies only on gestures and facial expressions. The chemistry between the two lovers, Cotta and Moreira, is simply fantastic. Madruga's calm performance in "A Lost Paradise" is also outstanding.
Simple yet moving, masterfully lensed and terrifically acted, Tabu is the first truly great film to appear on Blu-ray in 2013.
Tabu Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Miguel Gomes' Tabu arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors New Wave Films.
Excluding a few tiny flecks, Tabu looks simply fantastic on Blu-ray. In "A Lost Paradise", depth and fluidity are outstanding. Contrast levels are stable and color saturation wonderful. "Paradise" is grainier, boasting a slightly less-contrasty look. Light and shadow are also beautifully captured here. There are no traces of excessive denoising. Problematic sharpening corrections have not been performed either. Compression is also very good. Unsurprisingly, when blown through a digital projector Tabu looks simply gorgeous. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Tabu Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two standard audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: Portuguese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Portuguese LPCM 2.0. For the record, New Wave Films have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature.
The difference between the two tracks is minimal at best. Depth is slightly better on the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track where the music is heard, but otherwise the fluidity is practically identical. The dialog/narration is exceptionally crisp, stable, and very easy to follow. Additionally, there are no problematic audio dropouts to distortions to report in this review.
Tabu Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Tabu Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I loved every single minute of Miguel Gomes' Tabu. It is an incredibly poetic, masterfully lensed and terrifically acted film. And to see it on Blu-ray, looking so good, was a very special treat. Yes, it is only January, but this handsome release from British distributors New Wave Films is guaranteed to appear on my Top 10 list at the end of the year. Hopefully, one of our local distributors will bring Tabu to the United States. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Tabu Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Tabu Blu-ray - October 3, 2012
Independent British distributors New Wave Films will release on Blu-ray Portuguese director Miguel Gomes' Tabu (2012), starring Teresa Madruga, Laura Soveral and Ana Moreira. The release will be available for purchase online and at all major retailers in the United ...
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