Tabu (15)


Anthony Quinn
Thursday 06 September 2012 22:37 BST

Miguel Gomes' two-tiered drama is a beautifully composed meditation on lost love and the melancholy of age. Its extraordinary handling of time has something of the elegance of an Alice Munro short story.

Pilar (Teresa Madruga) is a middle-aged Portuguese lady whose charitable care for her ageing neighbour Aurora seems futile – the latter is fading into dementia.

But when Aurora asks Pilar to contact a man she knew in her past the story takes an amazing leap back to the latter's youth in colonial Africa, and an adulterous affair with a musician-lothario.

This section, shot in smoky 16mm, mutes the dialogue in favour of a voiceover that both holds and haunts: a long-buried secret is exhumed, only to be laid to rest again.

Gomes handles this intermingling of past and present with a humane and steady gaze, and in the character of Aurora reminds us that the old – those relics – were once as wild and alive as the young.

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