directed by Miguel Gomes
by Angelo Muredda Tabu opens, fittingly enough, at the movies, with an old melodrama about an explorer who's just been turned into a brooding crocodile. That's the first of many transformations in a protean film that shifts gracefully from ironic postcolonial critique, to essay on the cinema as a means of appropriation and reincarnation, to thwarted love story. While those layers may seem impossible to navigate, take heart: Director Miguel Gomes's great coup is to let this complex material flow instinctually from its emotional core. Fluidity is key to Gomes's aesthetic, which pairs the breathless momentum of a page-turner with the non-sequitur progression of a dream. Case in point, a moment when Pilar (Teresa Madruga), the first half's protagonist, sees a movie with the stuffy man who loves her. Pilar is visibly moved by what's on screen, but we never see it, hearing only a Portuguese cover of "Be My Baby" on the soundtrack--a thread left dangling only to be gingerly picked up in the second half. "You know what dreams are like," as one character tells us: "We can't command them."