I WeirDo [Fantasia Fest]

I don’t remember the last time I watched something that I found so absolutely charming as this film was. In order for me to speak properly about my feelings on the film, this review will have mild spoilers (regarding my overall feelings of the film, not the actual plot of the film). I will indicate where the spoilers begin, so feel free to read up to those moments.

Liao Ming-Yi directed I WeirDo on an iPhone XS. He also wrote the screenplay for the film, was the cinematographer, and edited the film. He has his finger prints over the whole film, and I couldn’t be happier about it. His film is absolutely lovely and wasn’t at all what I expected.

It seems more and more that we are seeing films that somehow are prescient of the quarantine and COVID life that nobody saw coming. In the image above, we see Po-Ching (Austin Lin, winner of the 53rd Golden Horse Award for Best Supporting Actor) at a grocery store wearing gloves, a mask and looking like he just walked out of his house like a lot of us do. Except, in I WeirDo, he’s not facing a dangerous contagious disease, but he’s fighting OCD.

At the beginning of the film, he would only leave every 15th of the month. He would do everything he had to do. He would pay all his bills, and do groceries. And then he will return home. And for the rest of the month, he would spend his time cleaning, and cleaning, and cleaning. He also works as a translator, but he takes a lot of time between projects, because his OCD stops him from being able to type as fast as his brain works.

Nikki Hsieh & Austin Lin, I WeirDo

One day, at the grocery store, he sees Chen Ching (Nikki Hsieh) who is very similar to him. They’re both wearing jackets to separate them from the germs in the air, with gloves, and masks. They run into each other at the grocery store a few times, and soon they get each other’s numbers, and then we see their love blossom. And it’s incredibly endearing to be part of the journey.

We see this couple both have their insecurities and fighting with similar, but different OCD traits. As I already mentioned, Po has trouble typing, but Chen doesn’t. So Po would translate, and Chen would type for him. Early in the film, we see Po-Ching moving the furniture in his house. He lifts one side of a bookshelf, and runs to the other side to move the other. And rinse, and repeat. With the shelf and everything else. He does this to detail clean and sanitize every part of the house. He cleans underneath his glass coffee table.Later on in the film, Chen is there to help him, he doesn’t need to run to the other side to move anything anymore. The two of them compliment each other. What normally would take him all day to clean, takes only half the day when she’s there to help. And when he points this out thinking about what he’ll do for the rest of the day with the time he’s saved, she just mentions it’s going to get dirty again before it gets dirty again.

Mild spoilers during the next paragraph.

Since the film is shot on an iPhone, it mimics a similar aspect ratio. It’s shot 1:1 for majority for nearly half the film before Po suddenly loses his OCD, the film opens up as he leaves his home and really notices nature. And he just sits in the moment. This causes a disconnect between the couple. I don’t remember the last time I saw a film that was so endearing and sweet, and all of a sudden, hit me like a brick and rip my heart out.

Spoilers end.

That being said, I loved this film. It’s attention to OCD and mental illness is done so well, it’s never done to talk about how “cute” and “quirky” it is. It’s both a hassle, part of someone’s identity, but also not the final definition of them. This is something I always struggle with for my own. It’s apart of me, but it will never be all of me.

Watch I WeirDo, I think you’ll love it.