Film Review: WEIRDOS (Canada 2015) ***1/2

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weirdos_poster.jpgDirector: Bruce McDonald
Writers: Daniel MacIvor, Daniel MacIvor
Stars: Dylan Authors, Rhys Bevan-John, Francine Deschepper

Review by Gilbert Seah

When talking about this film last year at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), director Bruce McDonald says that he does not go commercial because this way, he gets to make the kind of film he wants. WEIRDOS is an excellent example of an indie film, so uniquely McDonald and East Atlantic (the setting being the province of Nova Scotia) as well being written by East Coast Award winning playwright and film director Daniel MacIvor. MacIvor also won the Canadian Screen Awards this year for Best Film Screenplay for this film.

Bruce McDonald (HARD CORE LOGO, THE TRACEY SEGMENTS) turns down the angst a little while keeping the film just as edgy, with WEIRDOS.

The setting is the town of Antigonish in Nova Scotia on the 4th of July of 1976, the American Bicentennial. Music-loving 15-year-old Kit (Dylan Authors) spends his time either alone in his room listening to Elton John albums, or hanging out with his platonic girlfriend, Alice (Julia Sarah Stone, from WET BUM). Like Kit, Alice feels out of place, and her divorced parents have too many issues of their own to offer much comfort. The film pays tribute to (or copies from, depending on how one wants at look at it) films like Woody Allen’s PLAY IT AGAIN SAM to John Schlesinger’s MIDNIGHT COWBOY. Andy Warhol, played by Rhys Bevan-John advises Kit just as Bogart advises the Woody Allen character. Warhol appears at various points in the film, unseen by anyone except Kit giving silly advice to Kit which Kit never takes anyway. This ploy by MacIvor is remotely funny, but serves no purpose but provide a little humour. The beginning of the film feels like MIDNIGHT COWBOY together with the falsetto part of the song resembling “Everybody’s Talkin’ of me” by John Nilsson.

I did not think too much of WEIRDOS the first time I saw it at TIFF, but this is one film that grows on you. Throughout the entire film, one has the feeling McDonald thinks he is pretty cool and that his film is pretty cool stuff. The film is a little weird, pretty much like its characters and like McDonald himself. WEIRDOS is the perfect title for the movie.

Just like the Oscar winning Best Film, MOONLIGHT, WEIRDOS has an unexpected coming-out gay story. Though gay, Kit has a girlfriend and also attempts sex, though to no avail. In my opinion, the gay subtext cleverer here that in MOONLIGHT.

The young actors Authors and Stone are both superb, innocent and winning. The older actors also stand out particularly Molly Parker as Kit’s slightly crazy mother.

The film also renders a good message for teens. The story has Kit’s dad (Stephen McHattie) drive all the way to pick his son up in Sydney when things go wrong. It shows how much parents love and go all the way out for their kids, even though they don’t realize or appreciate it.

They is arguable Bruce McDonald’s best movie.

_________

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