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2,551 Ratings


Directed by Miguel Gomes
Portugal, Germany, 2012
Drama, Romance
  • Portuguese
  • English


A temperamental old woman, her Cape Verdean maid, and a socially-conscious neighbor live on the same floor of a Lisbon apartment complex. When the old lady falls ill, the other two learn of an outlandish episode from her youth: a story of love and crime set in Africa.

Our take

Miguel Gomes’s dazzling two-pronged tribute to old age, memory, & classic cinema is a bewitching, often funny journey with an atmosphere all its own. Like the ingenious Arabian Nights, Tabu is nearly impossible to categorize, but one thing’s for certain: it’s an arthouse high point of the 2010s.

Tabu Directed by Miguel Gomes

Awards & Festivals

Berlin International Film Festival

2012 | Winner: FIPRESCI Prize

Village Voice Film Poll

2012 | 2 nominations including: Best Director

Indiewire Critics' Poll

2012 | Nominee: Best Director

The strength of Tabu lies in how powerfully sex is captured, offering aural and visual textures that inspire sensorial memories. The black and white imagery of beautiful people making love behind layers of mosquito nets is a beautiful vision. The sex looks good, feels good, but it’s still just sex. But the nostalgia for this moment of time is unreal, rooted in a nostalgia for a broken system and a broken time.
July 16, 2015
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Despite the many reviews that describe it as “lush”, this extravagance is almost entirely an illusion, a tribute to Gomes’ ingenuity more than his budget. The director and his collaborators… have testified to the hard fact that, when they arrived on location in Africa, the budget evaporated – leaving the “central committee” listed in the credits with the task of devising a new, radically reworked script day by day.
February 06, 2014
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Without denying the devastating impact of Portuguese colonialism, Gomes acknowledges that it fed the colonials’ desire to experience life as the stuff of myth. In this regard, colonialism had much in common with cinema, enabling people to remake the world according to their own fantasies. Those fantasies may have died out, but Tabu unsettlingly suggests that they continue to haunt the Portuguese, who have yet to find a comparable dream to take their place in the imagination.
April 03, 2013
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