Miguel Gomes, Portugal, 2012, DCP, 118’
Tabu is a film that deftly navigates the in-between: in between sincerity and irony, repression and anarchy, post-colonial critique, and romanticism. Weaving together the present of crisis-stricken Portugal with its hoary imperialist past, Tabu experiments with the assumed connection between story and reality. We begin grounded in the “truth” of present-day Lisbon, in the midst of unjust economic conditions and global unrest, following a character who is trying to navigate her surroundings with a pessimistic morality. We then jump into the past, to a Portuguese colony depicted in impressionistic snapshot, where life is infinitely “freer” than the Portuguese of the 2010s, a heedless freedom built on the backs of exploitation – permitting unlimited passion and desire for any who wish to burn. The twisting and churning of these two worlds, these realms of reality and myth, reveals the aporia rife in both “texts”; perhaps the only real freedom afforded is in creation itself, alternatingly dipping in and out of the pools of dream, world and nightmare, never long enough to be fully submerged.