Fernando (Paul Hamy) is an ornithologist, set to spend a few solitary days in the wilderness to document a certain bird. When he has a kayaking accident, he drifts along the water and gets saved by two Chinese pilgrims Fei (Han Wen) and Ling (Chan Suan), who pull him out of the water. Since Fei and Ling lost their way and are afraid of the spirits they are sure haunt the woods, they demand that Fernando protects them. When he would rather just go home, things take a turn for the worse.
The Ornithologist managed to grab me twice but never for very long. For the most part, I found it boring, exhausting and uncomfortably religious.
As I said, there were two points were the movie really had me sitting up and paying attention. The first time was when Fei and Ling enter the scene and rescue Fernando. I wanted to see what happened next, I was curious. But when that encounter ended with Fernando strung up in the most elaborate bondage knots, I was taken aback and not in a good way. There was a certain misogynous undertone to that entire thing, like women are just waiting to tie up gay men, that I really didn’t appreciate. I am aware that (straight) women can treat gay men really shittily, but I also know that many gay men are uncomfortable with women and their sexuality in general – and this tasted of the latter rather than the former.
Fortunately that bondage interlude ended, and when Fernando was able to get away from Fei and Ling, my interest perked up again. But it doesn’t take long and the film becomes completely absurd after that. And I just wasn’t willing to go along with that absurdity – the film was way too boring for that.
Plus, I’m not a great fan of religion in general (for myself – you do you), and the film does play with religious imagery a lot. That alone wouldn’t have put me off it entirely, but it came with a certain does of pretentiousness that I really couldn’t stomach.
The film (and Paul Hamy) are beautiful to look at and it left behind an almost physical sensation of the woods and the water for me, but altogether maybe half an hour of the film actually caught my interest. And that just isn’t enough.
Summarizing: If you liked L’inconnu du lac, you’ll probably like this one as well. I didn’t like either.