The Ornithologist (O Ornitologo)
Director: Joao Pedro Rodriguez
Cast: Paul Hamy, Joao Pedro rodriguez, Chan Suan, Xelo Cagiao
Genre: Drama, Adventure, Mystery
Language: Portuguese, Chinese with English subtitles
Country of Origin: Portugal-France-Brazil 2016 118 mins
Released by Matchbox Films
Fernando is an ornithologist on a research trip in Portugal’s Douro region. After a kayaking disaster leaves him for dead, the lone scientist is rescued by two Chinese women on a trek to Santiago de Compostela. However, nothing is quite what is seems and so begins one man’s spiritual and metaphysical journey through the sprawling, often psychedelic woodlands. To give any more away would be to divulge the glorious secrets of this singular cinematic expedition, which comes infused with a profound sense of wonder and palpable hint of magic. Like a queer companion piece to Ciro Guerra’s Embrace of the Serpent, João Pedro Rodrigues’ pastoral meditation on landscape, ethnography and personal transcendence is a visually ravishing, profoundly hypnotic experience. But it’s also a strikingly subversive piece of work from a director with a reputation for defiant risk-taking, delighting and perplexing with its unpredictable narrative and fertile symbolism. 2016 BFI London Film Festival.