An endearingly sweet, emotionally satisfying road movie from Bruce McDonald
Veteran Canadian director Bruce McDonald (Pontypool, Hard Core Logo) follows up 2015’s polarizing horror flick Hellions with this charming coming-of-age tale that has infinitely broader appeal. Its main problem, in fact, is that it’s sometimes too agreeable – perhaps titling such an affable and gentle film Weirdos feels a bit like false advertising. Even the notoriously prickly eccentric Andy Warhol (Rhys Bevan-John) seems warm and fuzzy when intermittently materializing to offer words of encouragement to superfan Kit (Dylan Authors). But while its young characters’ ostensible rebellion is characterised with overall restraint, like most of the film, it’s nonetheless endearingly sweet.
Set during the 1976 US Bicentennial (which features as a lovely ironic motif), Weirdos follows teen couple Kit and Alice (Julia Sarah Stone) as they hitchhike through the sleepy villages of Nova Scotia along the way to Kit reuniting with his free-spirited artist mother (Molly Parker). When Kit eventually reveals he’s gay, Alice is stuck meeting her erstwhile boyfriend’s mum – who might actually be less free-spirited and more bipolar – for the first time, and, yes, things get weird.
Shot amid the idyllic landscapes of Cape Breton Island in a hazy black and white that easily conjures the past without kowtowing to it, Weirdos features a collection of atmospheric 1970s AM radio staples and a slew of winning performances, but it doesn’t truly come alive until Parker (House of Cards, Deadwood) hits the screen. Introduced dancing in her garden in a torn wedding dress like an early-middle-aged sexpot Miss Havisham, Parker is electric, heartbreaking, and hilarious, and her performance elevates Weirdos from ineffectual charmer to emotionally satisfying, bittersweet oddity.
Weirdos screened at Glasgow Film Festival