Set along a sublime river fjord in northern Portugal, "The Ornithologist" adapts the story of Saint Anthony of Padua - also known as Saint Anthony of Lisbon, a Portuguese Catholic priest and canonized Franciscan friar who is the patron saint of finding lost people and things - as it enacts the fraught pilgrimage of Fernando (Paul Hamy), a hunky ornithologist whose search for the rare and threatened black stork leads to an eventful and suspenseful journey of encounter, danger, and lust, on the path toward total enlightenment. After his concentrated bird surveying causes his boat to capsize, the unconscious Fernando is washed ashore and rescued by two young, seemingly innocent female Chinese pilgrims, who are lost on their way to Santiago de Compostela. Thereafter, the film bends genres and busts taboos as Fernando is forced into extreme action in order to survive a series of brutal, Stations-of-the-Cross-style tests, his metamorphosis observed all the while by the eerily placid gaze of the birds above.
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