Tabu is ambitious but uneven.
TABU (Miguel Gomes). 108 minutes. Subtitled. Opens Friday (September 21). See times. Rating: NNN
Portuguese writer/director and occasional surrealist Miguel Gomes (Our Beloved Month Of August) shows lots of ambition with this bifurcated black-and-white drama.
Tabu - playfully named after F.W. Murnau's 1931 silent Tabu: A Story Of The South Seas - spends its first half in the present, as a Lisbon woman (Teresa Madruga) worries about her elderly neighbour (Laura Soveral), then jumps back half a century to tell the story of that neighbour's life in Africa as a silent film narrated by her former lover (Carloto Cotta).
The problem is that the second half doesn't really illuminate the first. Instead of finding a way to knit the two halves together, Gomes settles for a playful recreation of jungle-movie tropes and a couple of nods to the Murnau film, then calls it a day.
Great soundtrack, though.