Canadian films have a certain stigma around them, partially that they have a similar flavour. There is a noticeable grain that our films tend to follow. The acclaim usually goes to our French Canadian releases, which is evident in the now bigger status of filmmakers like Denis Villeneuve, Jean-Marc Vallee and the Cannes loved Xavier Dolan. One of our English language Canadian gems in writer and director Bruce McDonald, who has graced us with homegrown classics like Hardcore Logo, Dance Me Outside and, one of my favorites, the incredible original Pontypool. Yes, there have been a few missteps, like the ill-advised Hardcore Logo sequel and the Broken Social Scene film, This Movie Is Broken, which loses all of its momentum in the third act, but Bruce is a major part of our nation film production and always a name I will continue to check out.
McDonald’s new film Weirdos isn’t just a Canadian made film but one that is steeped in national nostalgia. Taking place in 1976, the film follows teenage couple Kit and Alice as they plan a bit of a trek across part of the country. Going through a sort of existential crisis, Kit is hoping to hitchhike from his father’s house in rural Ontario to his mother’s house in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Against a backdrop of highways, vintage cars and stubby bottles of Molson Canadian, the young couple deals with questions of their parentage, Kit’s unresolved feelings about his sexuality and their future as a couple. Alice will do anything for the boy she loves but is the relationship really what she believes it to be? Is Kit’s belief in his mother one that is realistic?
Shot in black and white, Bruce McDonald puts a film onscreen that most likely reflects the one he saw at this time, as a seventeen yeat old kid from Kingston, Ontario. Diverting from his story, Kit is the character we rest on the most for the narrative of this film and his future reveal of sexuality will be known right away once his imaginary friend is introduced, the iconic Andy Warhol. Used as a more inner monologue and echo chamber, the fact that he idolizes Warhol and Elton John is an easy tip of the hat but Alice, who is aware of this, waits for the word from Kit himself. While this could be regarded as heartbreaking for Alice, I see this as more of her loyalty towards someone who is loved in more of a broad sense but is possibly hurt by not being included knowing his secret.
While both young leads, Dylan Authors and Julia Sarah Stone, give very likable performances in the naivety of their characters, this film is very much stolen by veteran actress Molly Parker, playing Kit’s bi-polar flower child mother. The script feels light and simple but the heavier elements of the film land well and that feels due to McDonald’s good relationship with his actors. Weirdos definitely has a far more relaxed feeling than anything McDonald has done for years and there’s something interesting to a filmmaker like this taking on a coming of age film that perked my interest and held it through til the credits. I mean let’s face it, there’s usually at least five of these type of movies a year at least. 3.5/5