Review by Sean Boelman
Unintentionally relevant to the current circumstances, Ming-Yi Liao’s romantic comedy I WeirDo is a delightful watch, especially for anyone who has ever felt alone because of their quirks. Compellingly-written and impressively-shot, this intensely independent charmer is lovable in every way.
The story follows two loners suffering from OCD as they find love in each other, only for their relationship to be tested when one of them is suddenly cured of their obsessive tendencies. Part of what makes this film so interesting is that it effectively plays out the common romantic comedy tropes in reverse, giving the narrative a refreshing feeling as a result.
Thankfully, despite the implications of the title, the depiction of the characters’ disorder is quite respectful. The jokes are never made at the expense of their disorder, but rather everyone else around them. Some of the best moments feature the characters as they venture out into the world and try new experiences in an attempt to loosen up, and as expected, they take a humorous turn.
The message about staying true to oneself is a common one for the genre, but it comes from a place of authenticity. There is some overt commentary on manipulation in relationships, a topic which is often taboo in romantic comedies, as the genre tends to idealize the process of finding love.
By treating both of these characters with compassion and sympathy, the story is really compelling. Yes, the romance aspect of the movie is fun and cute, but the arguably more fascinating thing that it has to offer is an exploration of how the characters affect each other and their conditions.
The two stars, Austin Lin and Nikki Hsieh, have wonderful chemistry together. They’re both super charming, but they also handle their roles with a lot of subtlety. Even in the more traditional visual gags, they bring just as much emotion to the scene as they do a sense of humor.
What makes this film even more impressive, though, is that it was shot on an iPhone. The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous, even making creative and effective use of an aspect ratio change. And fittingly, there is an extreme level of detail in the framing and production design, giving the movie a very clean and sharp look.
I WeirDo is the rare romantic comedy that succeeds in reinventing the tropes of the genre without even trying to comment on them. It’s funny, original, and timely, making it exactly what audiences need right now.
I WeirDo screened as a part of the virtual edition of the 2020 Fantasia Film Festival, which runs August 20-September 2.