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The Ornithologist 15 rating

A lone scientist in Portugal’s Douro region embarks on an unexpected transcendental journey. Beautiful, erotic and baffling.

Drama 2016 118 mins

Director: João Pedro Rodrigues



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.