A ”feature length mumblecore” in which two young men spend a single day getting to know and love each other in the hazy Berlin Summer, Boy Meets Boy is a chilled out conversation piece in the vein of Richard Linklater
Harry is a young Brit visiting Berlin for 48 hours of clubbing when he meets local Johannes on the dance floor of a sweaty nightclub and the two spark an instant connection. Harry has 15 hours until his flight home, and when Johannes offers to help him print his boarding pass the two end up spending a full day traversing the city together, chatting about life, love and helping each other take stock of their lives in that way sometimes only a stranger can do. Boy Meets Boy is the debut feature from Spanish director Daniel Sánchez López, who also co-wrote the screenplay, and stars Matthew James Morrison as Harry and Alexis Koutsoulis as Johannes.
‘Mumblecore’ is certainly an apt self description for this film. It features the lo-fi camerawork, naturalistic acting and settings and low drama but conversation heavy trademarks that you will recognise from the early works of Noah Baumbach, Greta Gerwig and of course Richard Linklater – this film is essentially a queer Before Sunrise after all.
It feels an especially modern ”2021” take on the genre, with the conversation between the two touching on such topics as app-based hookup culture, the difficulties of monogamy in the gay scene and the question of raising children. Family structures, careers, finding oneself and the place of religion in the modern world are all also up for discussion in a languid 1hr 15 minutes that sees the pair wandering sunny but mundane Berlin streets whilst having these honest conversations. It’s a relaxing, low stakes plot that puts the entire focus on our two characters, indeed there are barely two lines spoken to anyone else in the film.
Morrison and Koutsoulis have a natural chemistry and the way they act their playful attraction to one another is a lovely thing, all debate and jokes and teases until the genuine romantic longing creeps up on you in full force at the end. The central premise is also a good one – there’s truth to the fact that sometimes talking to a stranger is when we are able to be our most honest, and I’m sure many will relate to having those early morning, post-party ”deep and meaningfuls” where you attempt to set the world to rights.
I did find that some of the conversations felt a little sticky and inorganic though, the sheer quantity of topics covered meant that the quality of the writing sometimes varied and threatened the authenticity of the piece. One scene in particular where the couple debate religion after being approached by two Mormons in the street felt a bit shoehorned in in an effort to cover more ground. Whilst the slow burn of the romantic tension is ultimately pleasing, I think had this film been any longer it would have risked being dreadfully boring – I can appreciate that the slow paced, low stakes plot of this sort of film often divides audiences on whether they love it or leave it though.
Ultimately I found Boy Meets Boy to be a pleasurable enough journey as we get to know these two young men who have enough sparks of truth in them to resonate with a modern audience. A decent romance with an easy short run time, if you love a ”talkie” then this one’s for you.
Boy Meets Boy is playing as part of BFI Flare, the London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival, between 17th – 28th March. You can buy tickets to stream it right here