The word on Tabu has been nothing short of spectacular. As you might care to know, we handed out an A at this year’s New York Film Festival — a deserving one, judging by the review’s content — and are not alone in that level of praise, either. When a festival title is this well-received on the seasonal circuit, I only figure something must be wrong with everyone’s line of thinking. Chalk it up to experience.

But that might not be the case. As faulty as I know it is to put big hopes on a trailer, the newest one for Miguel Gomes‘ black-and-white art picture is really kind of a knockout; the footage is beautiful, the emotions are evident, and, above all else, there’s an (I believe) Portuguese cover of The Ronettes‘ “Be My Baby.” (Only once you listen to it will you realize how much that was needed in your life.) While the film’s experimental structure, including a silent half, isn’t pointed toward here — and maybe should have been, for the sake of letting us get a more concise picture — what we see is great stuff.

Watch the trailer below:


“PILAR spends her first years of retirement trying to straighten up the world and dealing with other people’s guilt, an increasingly frustrating task these days. She takes part in peace vigils, collaborates with Catholic charities, wants to lodge young Polish girls coming to Lisbon on a Taizé ecumenical meeting and constantly hangs up and takes down an ugly painting made by a friend so as not to offend his feelings should it not be in view when he comes to visit.

She is mostly troubled by her neighbor AURORA’s loneliness, a temperamental and eccentric octogenarian who escapes to the casino whenever she has any money on her. She talks constantly about her daughter who seems to not want to see her, has hangovers from anti-depressants and suspects her Cape-Verdean maid SANTA is wickedly practicing voodoo against her. We know little of Santa, who is sparse with her words, follows orders and thinks that everyone should mind their own business. She goes to adult literacy classes and practices at night by reading a young reader’s edition of Robinson Crusoe stretched out on her boss’s couch while smoking cigarettes.

Before dying, Aurora will make a mysterious request and the other two join efforts to accomplish it. She wants to meet a man, GIAN LUCA VENTURA, someone nobody knew existed until then. Pilar and Santa will find that he does exist but are informed he is no longer sane. Ventura has a secret pact with Aurora and a story to tell; a story that occurred fifty years ago, shortly before the beginning of the Portuguese colonial war. It starts like this: ‘Aurora had a farm in Africa at the foothill of Mount Tabu…'”

Tabu will open in limited release on December 26th.

What are your impressions from this trailer? Does it tell you enough beforehand to get properly situated?

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