Director: Liao Ming-Yi
Starring: Nikki Hsieh and Austin Lin
Released: Fantasia Fest 2020
Directorial debuts are always a pleasure to discover, and Fantasia Film Festival is delivering Liao Ming-Yi’s I WeirDo. This Thai film was shot on an iPhone and is a labour of love from our writer/director debutant. Once you see any stills or trailer for I WeirDo you can connect with these characters, especially in our post-lockdown world.
The film follows an intensely obsessive-compulsive and highly phobic of germs as well, Po-Ching (Austin Lin) lives a very precisely scheduled life, taking every precaution and leaving his apartment as rarely as he can. He’s alarmed when the grocery he habitually visits is closed, forcing a change in routine. As a result, though, he encounters Chen Ching (Nikki Hsieh), a young woman whose condition is comparable to his own. With a significant degree of awkwardness and anxiety, the two are drawn to each other. Things seem as perfect as an imperfect pair could hope for, but then something to dismay them occurs – falling in love has neutralized Po-Ching’s OCD, the very thing that binds them to one another.
I WeirDo breaks the conformities of your standard rom-com and evokes a delightful sense of quirkiness. Building a narrative around two OCD sufferers forms a charming bond, but it also reaches out to you, and their story becomes relatable to us all. From the beginning, Liao Ming-Yi sets a sorrow tone of solitude and isolation, and in our current climate, we can all relate to this feeling. Po-Ching and Chen Ching have a sense of sadness within them and because of this chance meeting their worlds unify and flourish.
As mentioned, I WeirDo breaks conventionalities as Ming-Yi’s tale has some fundamental truths. We all change in relationships sometimes for the best and the worse. I WeirDo challenges you to think of your past actions and see what Po-Ching is doing. Once his OCD magically disappears his attitude changes, and Chen Ching doesn’t see herself ever eradicating the OCD out of her life. This sense of realism is cascaded over a vibrant backdrop, and sweet nature is a vicious part of I WeirDo, but it makes it stand out.
The use of the iPhone as your camera works to Ming-Yi’s benefit. The film initially sets off as a vertical frame to capsulate the trapped lives of our protagonists and then it eventually the framing widens-up for us to see the world around them. There is a wonderful sense of being in I WeirDo, and it has some very witty dialogue.
All of this wonder and truth is complemented by tremendous performances from Nikki Hsieh and Austin Lin. They have created compelling and relatable characters that genuinely melt your heart. We all fall in love and the journeys we all go through maybe be different, but we can always relate. Liao Ming-Yi is a name to look out for in the future.