By KAYE VILLAGOMEZ
Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation
October 7, 2012
MANILA, Philippines — The Nora Aunor film “Thy Womb” won the nod of international film critics in several published reviews.
With a current 100 percent “Fresh” rating from review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, “Thy Womb” recently competed for the Golden Lion at the 69th Venice International Film Festival. The Brillante Mendoza film went on to bring home three special prizes from the said festival: La Navicella Venezia Cinema Award, the P. Nazareno Taddei Award – Special Mention, and the Bisato d’ Oro Award for Best Actress, which went to Ms. Aunor.
One of Rotten Tomatoes’ top critics and Variety reviewer Guy Lodge said of the 2012 release: “Typically arresting direction and a stoically moving lead turn from local industry legend Nora Aunor.”
Lodge added, “Mendoza leaves these anarchic intrusions unsettlingly free of social context; perhaps the director is concerned about a more external focus crowding his affectingly intimate relationship study. He strenuously avoids judging Shaleha’s (Nora) simultaneously courageous and anti-feminist decision to act as her beloved husband’s marriage broker, though Aunor’s softly crinkled face beautifully registers the internal pain of her every decision in this curious process.”
The critic added how tempting it was to call “Thy Womb” Mendoza’s best opus. “As an open-hearted, even sentimental tale of a working-class woman making the most selfless of sacrifices to give her husband a child, it’s tempting to call ‘Thy Womb’ the gentlest film to date from hardworking Filipino provocateur Brillante Mendoza. Then one remembers that it opens with a live human birthing and, later, graphically depicts the beheading of a cow by machete.”
Meanwhile, The Hollywood Reporter’s (THR) Neil Young recognized the “alluring scenery and a sympathetic lead performance help elevate an otherwise tepid, underdeveloped slice of Philippine ethno-drama.”
The detailed THR account read: “A spectacularly big sky, big sea location just off the coast of Borneo, Tawi-Tawi is one of the country’s five mainly Muslim provinces, and Mendoza’s depiction of the religion’s exotic but mild local variant adds much flavor to proceedings, especially the dazzlingly opulent garments worn at festive and formal occasions.
An IMDB.com critique said of the film: “Quickly assuming the stature of one of the most important directors from the Philippines, Brillante Mendoza churns out another macabre narrative of the hard knock lives from his native land with the effective ‘Thy Womb.’ Working at break neck speed and putting out several shorts and a title or two a year, he’s earned a prolific reputation after a 2009 Cannes win for Best Director for the infamous ‘Kinatay,’ and then followed that up with a starring role for the one and only Isabelle Huppert. But he switches gears a bit for this latest story, leaving behind a violence that dictates the narrative arc to tell a meditatively tragic tale, one which simmers gracefully to its abrupt finale.”
Produced by Center Stage Productions, the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) and written by Henry Burgos, “Thy Womb” – local title “Sinapupunan” – also stars Lovi Poe, Bembol Roco and Mercedes Cabral.