I WeirDO (2019) [Fantasia Festival 2020]

A germaphobe meets the girl of his dreams who he follows to a supermarket as she steals chocolate while wearing a similar protection outfit as his. Together, they attempt to make their life better, or at least perfect for them as a couple, that is until something unexpected happens and changes one of them.

This extremely timely film comes in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic from writer/director Ming-Yi Liao who brings two people who may be paranoid about germs and getting sick, but who also connect with viewers because of the current situation of the world. Of course, the film was made before this lovely year that is 2020 could even reveal what it had in store for people, so it’s an interesting connection that it makes here. The film’s themes are very current and they work even outside of the current world situation with two people connecting over being compulsive about cleaning, keeping germs away, and having their lives in order with a schedule and series of habits that make them feel safe. These characters are a bit on the quirky side, but they are not quirky for the sake of the film being cool. These two people are showing that there is something more to them than their quirks and habits. There is something more to life even when you live it almost locked in an house together with your soul mate.

Playing these soul mates are Austin Lin as Chen Po-ching and Nikki Hsieh as Chen Ching. These two work together here in a manner that feels natural within the limitations of their compulsive characters and they make for an interesting on screen couple that is both perfectly matched and perfectly wrong for each other. There is a something here that more than a love story and they portray it really well. Their work here keeps the film interesting and keeps the viewer involved as the whole story revolves around them. They make their peculiar characters into fleshed out humans who have feelings and react as best they can to life while dealing with their issues. The work they both put into this film is strong and has enough nuance to give the film that elevation it needs.

The film here was shot on an iPhone and it’s done in a way where you can tell at the start as it keeps the often seen ratio and look of something shot on a phone. As the film advances, things evolve and the viewer gets images that are much more traditional in terms of ratio and look. The use of the iPhone for filming here doesn’t feel like a gimmick thankfully and the story is strong enough to pull the viewer in with or without the style the film is shot in.

I WeirDo is a film that interesting on both a story level and on a visual level. There is more to this film than just a test of technology or quirky characters. It’s the kind of film that easily lends itself to being watch on a variety of devices and it works well in many ways. The performances by Lin and Hsieh are strong and keep the viewer involved while the visuals are an added layer to the film that helps sell the story.

The Fantasia International Film Festival runs every year, and this year runs virtually from August 20th until September 2nd.