Award-winning Filipino filmer Lav Diaz isn’t daunted by making films lasting ten hours. For him, The Woman Who Left is on the short side at only 226 minutes. This compact, calmly-breathing narrative is based on Tolstoy’s short story God Sees the Truth, that had previously, via Stephen King, resulted in The Shawshank Redemption, and it brought Diaz the Golden Lion at the last Venice Film Festival.
After thirty years of unjust imprisonment, the former primary school teacher Horacia (Charo Santos-Concio) is unexpectedly released in 1997. In the meantime, family (deceased, decamped or disappeared) and country (dogged by kidnappings, according to the radio) have changed. Through meandering conversations, the charitable yet vengeful Horacia gets involved with the seamy side of society.
In this way, director/screenwriter/cameraman/editor Diaz again juxtaposes the trials and tribulations of individuals with the political, historical and social background of his country of birth in graphic, contrasting black-and-white, and long, static shots.