Fantasia International Film Festival: I WeirDO (2020) reviewed by Jonathan Berk

I WeirDO (2020) is streaming at the Fantasia International Film Festival, and it is quite a movie. It is incredibly funny and lovably charming, with terrific performances and innovative cinematography. This is an incredible first feature film for writer and director Ming-Yi Lioa, who uses a disorder to great effect to tell this story. It is impactful and powerful, while still being extremely entertaining. 

Po-Ching (Austin Lin) is an OCD patient, with serious symptoms of mysophobia. His standard operating procedure is disrupted when he encounters Chen Ching (Nikki Hsieh) at a convenience store where he was doing his monthly shopping. She is dressed similarly to him, covered from head to two with a raincoat and face mask, -and he suspects she, too, may have OCD. A relationship blooms and their lives change for the better. 

This is a unique romantic comedy for major parts of the story. It is an exploration of love and how one’s “flaws” can be perks if viewed from the right perspective. The characters in this film are looked at as “weirdos” by general society – though their attire seems more normal when framed through COVID-19 – yet, to each other, they are yin and yang. They compliment each other perfectly, and it springs a true love like no other. 

The aspect ratio is quite unique, as it is basically a true square. It’s tight and odd, but seems to immediately capture Po-Ching’s world: it’s in a box. He lives in boxes, and this is visually emphasized even more with him marking off his calendar with a large red “X” on the days he left the house. The visual area is restrictive and limiting, much like OCD is on our characters. This visual style plays heavily on the themes in the film to great effect. 

The first half of the film is framed heavily from Po’s perspective. Lin’s performance is charming, and he plays the quirkiness perfectly. He is slightly outshined by Hsieh, though – and as the film takes a shift after the midpoint, the story becomes hers. She gets her moments to deliver humor, but her story is wrought with far more emotions than just comedy. She is outstanding and manages to give an incredibly complex performance for her very dynamic character. 

I WeirDO is a great example of what a romantic comedy can be. A genre often thought of as nothing more than popcorn fare definitely has the ability to tackle complex human problems with even more complex characters. While there is certainly still room to further develop this idea, I WeirDO earns the Must See rating.

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