Francisco Rabal (Best Actor Award at the Festival de Cannes for his role in Los Santos inocentes (The Holy Innocents) in 1984) plays Don Nazario, a faithful Mexican priest living in poverty. Disavowed by the Church after taking in Andara, a fugitive prostitute who had committed a murder, the priest finds himself without a home after she sets his house on fire. Don Nazario has to leave the ministry and wander from village to village, followed against his wishes by Andara and Beatriz, a women abandoned by her lover.
Condemned for his munificent charity, Don Nazario is a character who experiences rejection twice: first from the Church, which was supposed to defend him, and second from certain villagers. In the name of his unfailing belief, the priest will accept suffering, violence and humiliation. This pessimism and critical view of religion will appear in other works by Buñuel, whose relationship with religion (one of his favorite themes) will always be conflictual.
A misunderstood and complex character, Don Nazario continues to help the destitute even as his own situation becomes increasingly precarious. His quest for the ideal, and religious exemplarity, will put him to the test throughout the film and submerge him in profound misery. His honesty and kindness will condemn him to solitude.
Nazarín is a naturalistic and merciless film that causes the audience to reflect on human nature, its cruelty, and the limits of religion and devotion.