Paul Hamy, Xelo Cagiao, João Pedro Rodrigues,
On a solo expedition to study black storks, a mishap separates strapping young ornithologist Fernando (Paul Hamy) from his camp, his kayak, and the outside world. His increasingly bizarre ordeals as he attempts to get back to civilization encompass encounters both sacred and profane: first, two Christian Chinese pilgrims try making him an all-too-literal martyr to their faith, then a goatherd named Jesus offers erotically welcoming counterbalance. This remote northeastern corner of Portugal seems ominously full of secretive pagan rites. An international cineaste favorite since his 2000 breakthrough O fantasma, João Pedro Rodrigues has created arguably his most accessible work to date, without abandoning any of his trademark idiosyncrasies. This metaphysical (but also very physical) adventure, shot entirely outdoors, is by turns sexy, surreal, mystic, and mystifying. It twists Catholic iconography into a playfully modern pretzel shape that does not neglect the filmmaker’s customary frank homoeroticism. Nor does it neglect humor—though the tribulations Fernando endures may be dead serious to him, with the film’s airy absurdism, they seldom seem so to the viewer.