BFI FLARE REVIEW: ‘Boy Meets Boy’ (2021) is an Intimate Snapshot of a Queer Romance

Rating: 4 out of 5.

“The chemistry between Koutsoulis and Morrison is electrifying”

Sparks fly in Boy Meets Boy, a wonderful story of queer love and connection set in modern day Berlin. The impressively natural performances from the lovers at the centre of the film, paired with a non-existent score and tight cinematography, makes for an intimate experience throughout the film’s brief runtime. 

The opening perfectly establishes our leads: Berlin local Johannes (Alexandros Koutsoulis) expresses himself through contemporary dance before silently going through a morning routine with his inattentive boyfriend, whilst Harry (Matthew James Morrison) quietly plays on his phone as his one night stand leaves his hotel room. It’s a brief but impactful opening that give audiences some idea of each character before the film thrusts the leads into each other’s orbits. Harry and Johannes gravitate towards each other on the dance floor and share a passionate kiss. From there, Johannes agrees to help Harry print off his boarding pass and give him a tour of the city before Harry heads back to the UK.

The chemistry between Koutsoulis and Morrison is electrifying. From the very first moment they catch each other’s eyes in the nightclub we know they have a physical attraction to each other they simply can’t ignore. Even throughout their journey together, the camera often catches Harry and Johannes give each other flirtatious looks of admiration. That camera also does an incredible job of creating intimacy, with nearly every shot being a close up of a face or a tight two-shot of our lovers. The aspect ratio too, which is not quite 4:3 but is squarish enough to enclose the two leads together in an intimate space, and the handheld camera movement helps make the story feel grounded. You’d be mistaken for thinking you’re watching a slice-of-life documentary and not a well-performed and well-written drama. 

Image is from the film 'Boy Meets Boy' (2021). Two boys stand beside one another, looking out into the horizon. One is wearing a yellow shirt, the other a grey tank top.
Image courtesy of BFI

Boy Meets Boy is almost entirely centred around conversations between Harry and Johannes, so it’s a good job their performances are consistently engaging and feel so natural. There is even a point where the characters react to a beeping van passing by, mid-flow during a monologue. The conversations they have cover a whole range of topics: sexuality, careers, religion, parenthood, even the meaning of life. The particular topics explored feels like writers Daniel Sanchez Lopez and Hannah Renton are debating amongst themselves at time, but having the leads talk through different topics serves as a meaningful way of revealing their character to each other, and to create conflict. 

“Have you ever fallen in love in one day?”, ponders the film’s poster. Boy Meets Boy toys with that question as even though the physical attraction between Harry and Johannes is undeniable, their personalities often clash, resulting in some heated debates and arguments. This constant push and pull between passionate moments of physical intimacy and their butting of heads over their differing outlooks on life helps to keep audiences on their toes. It’s very much a micro narrative being told, and the short runtime means the story and characters never outstay their welcome. I won’t spoil the ending, which will satisfy audiences by answering the question of whether they do truly fall in love or not, but film makes it clear that it is more concerned with the journey and not the destination.

Boy Meets Boy is simply a joyous 75 minutes that relishes in the adventure of a fleeting romance. The confident direction and visual style marks Lopez as a new voice to pay attention to, and Morrison and Koutsoulis will no doubt be cast in future projects thanks to two solid performances. Watching Boy Meets Boy at this particular point in human history makes me long for those hot summers full of spontaneous moments and chance encounters the film romanticises so earnestly.

Dir: Daniel Sanchez Lopez

Wri: Daniel Sanchez Lopez & Hannah Renton

Prod: Jay Lin, Daniel Sanchez Lopez, Yeray Ros, Lucia Sapelli 

Cast: Matthew James Morrison, Alexis Koutsoulis 

Header image courtesy of BFI.