Thy Womb, at first glance, is a silhouette of a woman behind the sun in a burning sky. It’s a bit distracting but what’s a beautiful skyline if it were to end up in a postcard? This is where the story enters under the powerful imagery of a woman. Reserved, courageous and emotional.
In Thy Womb, highly acclaimed director Brillante Mendoza takes a grip to a story that honors women more than it celebrates culture and tradition. We see an aging Badjao couple, a midwife Shaleha (Nora Aunor) and a fisherman Bangas-an (Bembol Roco) who can’t conceive a child. Wanting to have a child fill their lonely lives, Shaleha approves of Bangas-an marrying a child-bearing woman.
The rest of the story follows the couple as they search for ‘thy womb‘. Aunor gives a quietly moving performance that lingers even after you watched the film. This is my first time to witness Aunor’s acting prowess and they were right – the twinkling of her eyes (particularly under the moonlight) gives shivers like an old Sunday song. Bembol Roco, on the other hand, presents an incredibly honest and realistic performance that well complements Aunor’s subtlety. Lovi Poe gives the strongest support with her restraint acting despite her ephemeral appearance.
However, the film becomes too involving over time that its frailty becomes apparent. The script for one is almost nonexistent if not lackadaisical. From a graceful start it becomes dragging and repetitive. But even when I was starting to feel bored I didn’t hate it.
Why? Because Thy Womb asks us to wait and appreciate the time spent on waiting. Appreciate life, culture, women, differences and most of all beautiful images while the story paddles to the ending.
In the end of it all, Thy Womb is nothing but the woman, the distraction, and everything else falls in the background. Even the only ringing conflict of war was dismissed. The movie blatantly expresses the need to face distraction than find a way to look into the beautiful skyline. In a way, watching Thy Womb is a distraction to the outrageously bright yet too common entries of this years’ film festival.
Thy Womb is a poignant journey. A pensive and unsteady boat ride paddled by emotionally raw performances. Not for the holidays, not for everyone but certainly worth the wait.