SPEC D: Bruce McDonald. Canada. 84 min. Sep 9, 7 pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox 1 Sep 11, 8:45 am, Isabel Bader. Rating: NNN

McDonald reunites with his Trigger screenwriter Daniel MacIvor for another two-hander, though this one is radically different from their last collaboration. Set in 1976, the film follows two Nova Scotia teens (Dylan Authors, Julia Sarah Stone) hitchhiking from Antigonish to Sydney as the American Bicentennial plays out just to the south.

The pacing is a little wonky, but Weirdos eventually gets where it’s going. The story clearly holds some autobiographical resonance for MacIvor, but it feels strangely like a homecoming for McDonald, who launched his career at TIFF in 1989 with another black-and-white road picture.

Authors (Falling Skies, The Husband) nicely underplays his conflicted, closeted character, though the movie doesn’t pretend that he isn’t an indie-film cliché, even giving him a sounding board in the form of an imaginary Andy Warhol (Rhys Bevan-John). And Allan Hawco, Cathy Jones, Molly Parker and Stephen McHattie are all very good in small but important grown-up roles.

But it’s ultimately Stone who walks away with the picture. Adding an impatient clarity to the old-soul watchfulness she displayed in Wet Bum, she slowly becomes Weirdos’ moral centre. And it’s something to see.

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