Taboo (1980)

April 26, 2013 by adamsunderground

A slim, naturally buxom housewife with bold, expressive eyes, Barbara is shocked when her wealthy husband, Chris, abandons her to start a new life with his secretary. Undeterred, the elegant and demure brunette commits herself to working for financial self sufficiency. The separated couple’s fully grown son, the handsome but rapacious Paul, spends his days either attending school or seducing women. Staying loyal to his caring mother, the young man continues living at home with the stunning, unassuming woman, whose beauty he continually praises.

Commiserating with upheaval in Barbara’s situation is her best friend, Gina, a compulsive hedonist with a tart sense of humor, who spends her free time seeking newer and kinkier sexual thrills. The oversexed single blonde kindly arranges a new job and a blind date for the grateful brunette. Some bizarre moments elicit genuinely unforced humor, often revolving around Gina’s voracious sexual hunger clouding her judgment.

Barbara, now a shy and freshly single mother, thinks she is ready to begin a new chapter in her life. However, nothing can prepare her for the sexual jungle of San Francisco awaiting her in the late ’70s, not to mention her son’s animal-like presence stirring under her own roof.

With such a scandalous act anchoring the premise, Taboo wisely avoids using it for plot filler by overexposing it. As the audience’s attention would suffer from its repetition, the film’s escalating sexual deviancy is another matter. Whether deliberate or accidental, Taboo’s portrayal of incest comes without much realism to shock the audience.

The unavoidable details separating Paul and Barbara relegate their transgression of into near abstraction, also aided by the privacy surrounding their interactions. It may as well be strangers having a fling because the pair has no traits in common, either physical or personality-wise. Her modest and steady demeanor of graceful sensitivity contrasts with his vacillations from saccharine sycophancy to indiscreet lewdness. Visibly in the low single digits, any age gap between them is negligible, almost a biological impossibility. Only once, the film breaks into realism momentarily with Barbara’s painful plea of Paul to recall the innocence of the past, as she tries to convince him of their terrible mistake.

A few scenes need re-shooting because several actors stumble over their lines, and the English actress, Kay Parker, sometimes drops her seductive voice out from its believable American accent at the end of her lines as Barbara. Regardless of the fact that this reviewer would gladly listen to her read the phone book in any accent, others would find the inconsistency distracting.

Stock photo. Image by SapporoSippin, via Photobucket

Kay Parker envelops the role of Barbara with a gentle, sensuous mist of sophisticated feminine allure that tantalizes with tangible passion stirring deep within that magnificent bossom. The rest of the cast looks good and performs well, that is if you’re not obsessed with the starlet’s soulful eyes, silky tresses–um, this effusive gushing is enough…for now.

The movie’s visuals don’t disappoint. Its camera angles often fully reveal the actresses’ beauty during sex scenes. While the tally of edits changing to different camera positions is excessive, and often unpredictable, most good shots do linger long enough on the subjects to well communicate the uninhibited action.

Wildly inconsistent, Taboo’s editing at times looks like the film was passed around an orgy of doped up strangers to take a stab at it. It fluctuates from good to confusing to competent to annoying and back again, forcing the viewer to consider the editing bay the place where both dreams and nightmares are made.

Stock photo. Image by vestel777, via Photobucket

Consistently good overall, the sound does have its moments when it tries to mimic the editing’s schizophrenia. An absurd champagne-cork popping sound effect belongs nowhere amid a serious sex scene, but such oddities are brief and rare enough for most people to overlook.

The off key ending doesn’t befit the tone of the story, but far worse writing choices could have shrieked across the screen.

In closing, all of Taboo’s flaws amount to nothing more than a quickly forgotten boo-boo that Barbara sweetly kisses away with a warm tenderness that leaves you with indelible, pleasant memories.

Total Grade: A

Specialty Grade

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Screenplay A

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Acting A

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Cinematography A
applications-multimedia Film Editing D

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Visual Effects C

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Audio B

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Sound Editing B

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Audio Effects B

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Musical Score C

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Production Design A

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