BFI Flare 2021 Review: Boy Meets Boy

Taking us to a romantic summer in Berlin, director Daniel Sánchez López (who co-writes with Hannah Renton) presents Boy Meets Boy. Capturing a fleeting romance, the feature is an impressive naturalistic dive into the complexities of modern queer love bolstered by sensitive turns from Matthew James Morrison and Alexis Koutsoulis.

It is junior doctor Harry’s (Matthew James Morrison) last day of a solo weekend in Berlin, he has spent a hazy two days in the city partying and hooking-up when he meets Johannes (Alexis Koutsoulis) on the dancefloor. The pair spend a romantic carefree day getting to know each other in the city’s sunshine as Harry’s imminent departure looms in the background.

López and Renton’s narrative opens with Harry finishing an anonymous hook-up, he is straight back on Grindr with messages buzzing and immediately plotting his next bout of no strings attached fun. App culture works for his busy lifestyle and career as a doctor yet there is a soulless quality about the exchange as the two men who previously spent an intimate moment together later have no further interaction. This exchange feels like the polar opposite to when Harry meets Johannes organically in-person in a sweaty neon-filled Berlin nightclub – this is not an encounter initially centred on sex, more just the chance meeting between two young men of a similar age yet carrying very different outlooks on life. As Johannes appoints himself Harry’s tour guide, the pair lay their feelings on the line about numerous queer centred concepts whilst also building an organic bond with an authentic feeling chemistry.

Boy Meets Boy feels somewhat improvisational in its off-the-cuff exchanges between Harry and Johannes with both actors bringing an authentic conviction to the forefront. The romantic tension that builds as these two young men bond feels heartfelt and wholly engaging thanks to naturalistic performances from Morrison and Koutsoulis. Delicate light moments help further build this including the boys playing on Microsoft Paint in an internet café, visiting the sights of the city, and Johannes sharing a moment in the dance studio he frequents with Harry. The backdrop of the urban, airy and sun-lit city of Berlin is captured with a wonderous appeal by cinematographer Hanna Marie Biørnstad, making it a picturesque, vibrant locale for this modern love story to unfold upon.

The camerawork feels natural and non-static, moving with our protagonists as they explore the city – lending a further authenticity to Boy Meets Boy. It feels natural and impulsive like the gradually building relationship between Harry and Johannes. The editing has a similar quick-fire approach in moments diving between romantic lingering and quicker, fast-paced cuts; further establishing a sense of this fleeting fast-paced moment in Harry’s bright and airy weekend.

Boy Meets Boy dives into numerous trials and tribulations of contemporary gay life: the previously mentioned stance on app-culture; Harry’s reliance and Johannes’ awareness but lack of real interest, Harry’s inability to be with the same sexual partner more than once as a rejection of heterosexual norms, gay parenting, and open relationships all become food for thought as part of the duo’s moments of bonding.

López’s film has a real magnetic quality and the slow-burning bond between the protagonists gains an impressive sense of emotional and romantic depth in its punchy seventy-minute run time – an impressive feat. Morrison and Koutsoulis shine in exploring this gradually burning romance capturing a woozy romantic and sexual chemistry, which gains a prescient impact given from the time-limit aspect of the narrative as Harry’s flight looms. By the closing scene’s use of KWS’s Please Don’t Go, the achingly romantic power of Boy Meets Boy will undoubtedly have a lump in your throat.