Desire for Perfection: Asia’s First iPhone Feature Film ‘I WeirDO’

Desire for Perfection: Asia’s First iPhone Feature Film ‘I WeirDO’
Photo Credit: Activator Marketing

What you need to know

Touted as Asia’s first feature film to be entirely shot on an iPhone, 'I WeirDO' examines human affection through a relationship built upon obsessive-compulsive disorder.

The instinct to seek out similarities in a partner can be the basis or the downfall of a relationship. In his feature debut, I WeirDO, Taiwanese writer-director Liao Ming-yi examines the pre-conditions for human affection through a relationship built upon obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Now making its way through international film festivals, I WeirDO is touted as Asia’s first feature film to be entirely shot on an iPhone. In the first 45 minutes, the anxious worldview of an OCD patient is constructed within the square frame of an iPhone XS Max. Each interior shot carefully combines a whimsical color palette with an almost sterile composition, mirroring the compulsive desire for perfection.

Chen Po-ching (Austin Lin) suffers from a severe case of mysophobia, in which he feels compelled to rub his hands exactly 15 times whenever he washes them. To reduce his need for hand-washing, he sanitizes every corner of his house daily. The excessive fear of germs cuts him off from social activities, but he makes sure to leave the house — in full protective gear of face mask, raincoat, and gloves — on the 15th of every month to pay bills and buy groceries and disinfectants.

《怪胎》繼入選義大利遠東影展_再入選韓國富川奇幻影展_世界藍色奇幻單元
Photo Credit: Activator Marketing

A disruption to Chen’s “standard operating procedure,” the temporary closure of his designated supermarket, diverts him from his daily routine. He notices Chen Ching (Nikki Hsieh), dressed the same as himself but standing out in a bright yellow raincoat. Also an OCD patient herself, Ching has kleptomania and her skin is extremely sensitive to pollution. With a shared passion for hygiene, the two outcasts quickly fall in love and embrace each other’s quirky flaws.

Liao’s screenplay borders on a humorous absurdity that bears resemblance to Wes Anderson’s playfulness. Oddities stemming from OCD are portrayed in an endearing light during the first act. Upon learning the health benefits of kissing, the two germaphobes attempt the romantic act, aggressively brushing their teeth in preparation for an awkward touching of lips. After a drawn-out kiss session, they end up saying that it was too dirty.

林柏宏謝欣穎主演電影怪胎
Photo Credit: Activator Marketing

As one protagonist becomes free of OCD, the frame size naturally widens from a tight square into a standard widescreen aspect ratio to represent the mental change. But the expanded worldview, coupled with a dreadfully slower pacing, flatten the film’s initial charm. Continuing an otherwise eccentric story in normality may not be Liao’s strong suit as the dialogue also takes an uninspiring turn.

Despite its unusual premise around OCD, I WeirDO is a universal story about relationship dynamics that are subject to change. Susan Sontag warned against using illness as a metaphor, but what Liao does is turn that idea on its head. We are all “weirdos” like the characters in the film, in thrall to a need for the common qualities with our partners to remain static.

READ NEXT: Chloé Zhao’s ‘Nomadland’: An Oscar-Deserving Ode To the American West

Editor: Nicholas Haggerty, Bryan Chou (@thenewslensintl)

If you enjoyed this article and want to receive more story updates in your news feed, please be sure to follow our Facebook.


Tags: