(UPDATED) Lav Diaz's newest film "Ang Babaeng Humayo" starring screen veteran and ABS-CBN chief content officer Charo Santos earned positive reviews from critics and received a rousing reception during the film's debut at the 73rd Venice Film Festival.
The 228-minute long feature is the lone Asian film among the 55 entries competing for the Golden Lion, the top prize of the international film festival.
Hollywood Reporter's Clarence Tsui predicted that the film would "leave Venice with a few prizes," praising Diaz for his "immaculate imagery" and described Santos' performance as a wrongly convicted school teacher as "majestic."
"Making her first screen appearance after resigning from her role as president of ABS-CBN, Santos has delivered a sturdy performance in which she brings to the fore all the unstable emotional contours of a mentally unraveling avenger," Tsui wrote.
Meanwhile, Variety's Guy Lodge, who admittedly was "disappointed" with Diaz's eight-hour Silver Bear-winning epic "Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis," had more than kind words this time around for the Filipino director.
Comparing Diaz's two films, Lodge found "Ang Babaeng Humayo" to be "a more emotionally resonant, intellectually satisfying experience all round." And much like Tsui, Lodge also noted Santos' "remarkable return to the screen."
Jeroen Struys of Belgium's De Standaard and Robert Koehler, a contributor for sites like Cineaste and Cinema Scope, took to Twitter to air their thoughts on the film.
The film, however, received a relatively lukewarm reception from Jonathan Romney of Screen Daily, who said: "At once over-repetitive and less surprisingly digressive than some of his other films, [Ang Babaeng Humayo] may not represent Diaz at his absolute peak, but it's a powerful, thoughtful melodrama that pulls you into its world and delivers a number of irresistible emotional coups."
ABS-CBN's Danny Buenafe posted a short clip of Diaz and Santos receiving a standing ovation following the film's screening at the Sala Grande theater in Venice.
"Ang Babaeng Humayo" tells the story of Horacia (Santos), a woman imprisoned for 30 years, only to be released after someone else confesses to her crime.
She soon finds out that her husband had long passed away, her daughter had moved out, her son missing, presumed dead, and that a former lover had set her up to be jailed.
Produced by Cinema One Originals and Sine Olivia Pilipinas, the film also features performances from John Lloyd Cruz, Sharmaine Buencamino, Nonie Buencamino, Michael De Mesa, Jean Judith Javier, and Marjorie Lorico.