Wednesday, January 2, 2013




Dale's Review:

A lot of Filipinos say that we do not have good movies. Some, even go as far as proudly claim that they do not watch Filipino films because they are "baduy." I suspect that the people that say these things are the ones that proclaim anything marked as #1 in Hollywood Box-office as a must watch. If they happen to watch a local film, it would probably be anything with Anne Curtis or John Lloyd in it. That isn't saying that their movies are bad, but the local industry certainly has so much more to offer that just their films.

I saw Thy Womb last Thursday fully expecting to get bored. I even said that this is like a required film screening in college that people will have to review enthusiastically to echo what foreign critics have been saying and avoid looking like an art-tard. But as the film played on to an almost empty cinema, we found ourselves deeply engrossed and taken by every detail presented in the beautifully photographed film.

Nora Aunor plays a Badjao midwife that is unable to have an offspring. Wanting to fulfill her husband's wish to have a child in their home, she seeks out a potential second wife for him, taking the task as normally as any daily chore. We do not hear her say anything about the awkwardness of the situation nor did she give any long winded monologue but we see more than a flood of emotion in her eyes.

Nora Aunor, who set the acting bar in Philippines cinema, did not fail to impress. Her brilliance only heightened by the implicit performance of Bembol Roco that is more worthy of an acting award than any rookie nominated in the same category.

Thy Womb isn't all about Nora Aunor however. While the performances were quietly powerful, the film was a feat itself. It presents a reality so fascinating and so authentic, you can almost touch it. It depicts a way of life that is as colorful as it is chaotic, simple and unjust. It feeds you with an array of emotions and right before it ends, it lets you take it all in and experience an unbearable pain.

Some people have said that Thy Womb is not in the same category as the other MMFF entries and should have been screened someplace more appropriate like an art festival or the Cinemalaya. I resent the idea that a quality film should have a limited audience. I think that we should always make room for quality and not be resigned to the fact that family time during the holidays should be spent watching trash. It is not too late to elevate the  taste of the viewing public. We only need to give them more opportunities to be exposed to movies like Thy Womb. This task is of course mainly that of the festival committee that needs to stop thinking only about revenues and start thinking of the industry that they are trying to uplift.

Rating: 4.75/5

Jae's Review:

I initially had to force myself to watch Thy Womb. Since international critics were hailing this as a great movie, I had the impression that this could be compared to Tree of Life or Lost in Translation - for being boring and too deep for my taste. I couldn't have been more wrong.

I'll just write how I feel about the movie since you can read a ton of reviews with more credibility than I will ever have.

To sum it up - I felt Nora's desperation. Her fears, frustration and love for her husband was palpable and very real. I felt like I was in there, a silent witness to everything that was happening. The movie is built on this and the foundation the director provided was so solid that when he cut it out at the very last scene, I felt everything all at once and in a tidal wave of emotions that I didn't know how to react.

This movie is also a great cultural immersion for the uninitiated, like me, on our Muslim brothers and sisters and how they go about their daily lives.

And the cinematography. Wow. If I was amazed with The Strangers' cinematography, I was blown away with Thy Womb. 

Both Nora Aunor and Angel Locsin are gunning for the Best Actress award - after seeing both of them, I can definitely say that Angel has a long way to go before she can beat Nora's acting skills in this movie.

Brilliante Ma Mendoza is one hell of a director and obviously a master of his craft. Thank you for making movies like these and not succumbing to commercialism. Thank you for stubbornly doing it your way.

So, should you watch it? If you don't like open ended stories, this movie is not for you. If you understand the indie genre and why passionate directors use every scene and every detail to tell a story, even if it sometimes take too long and the movie appears to be dragging, this movie is for you.

Rating: 4.5/5
Average Rating: 4.6/5

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