The Berlin-Set Film ‘Boy Meets Boy’ Is an Authentically Queer Tale of Hookup Culture
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Boy Meets Boy is a Berlin-set two-hander that’s a lot Before Sunrise with a little bit of Weekend thrown in for good measure. In other words, it’s a Socratic dialogue with flirting, a pinch of (inferred) sex, and a heart of melancholy that leaves two strangers, falling in love, stranded by geography.
Two-handers — basically, any movie with only two main characters — live and die by their performances, and Boy Meets Boy, at a brisk 75 minutes, is lucky to feature Matthew James Morrison as Harry, a hard partying Brit in Berlin for a long weekend, and Alexandros Koutsoulis as Johannes, a fledgling dancer-slash-food delivery bike messenger.
They meet on a dance floor towards the tail end of Harry’s 48-hour sex fest and spend a leisurely day roaming Berlin, at first just to find a printer for Harry’s boarding pass (I guess the airline doesn’t do digital) and then, as it happens, to explore the vibe that develops between them. Could they find real joy with each other or is this yet another brief romantic encounter? Their ideas of joy differ wildly.
“My intention was exploring melancholy and the feeling after a fleeting moment of joy,” director Daniel Sánchez López has said. “I wanted to explore this from a queer perspective. I was also interested in exploring the idea of not fitting within the gay community itself: the coming out of the second closet. Often, I was feeling lonely inside the gay community, and I wanted to make this film to explore this feeling and share it with others to feel less lonely and also make others feel less lonely. I guess the message is: ‘you are not alone.’”
The pleasure of Boy Meets Boy is in the harmonic interplay between the actors (and the filmmaker’s unobtrusive direction). Harry seems to be the more guarded of the two; rigid in his approach to work, life, relationships (sex, and only that). Johannes, raised in a loving household, pines for monogamy, passion, a connection deeper than fleeting carnal pleasures. The film touches on hookup culture, religion, open relationships, and the various stereotypes we’re placed in or place ourselves in as gay men.
“We need more representation of queer people talking about love, sex, relationships and identity,” the director has said. “Talking about themselves and by themselves. I feel most of the stories with LGBT people are about trauma: AIDS, coming out and rejection. These stories are important, but I hope we get more and more used to watching queer content where we can identify with our daily lives.”
Boy Meets Boy delivers on that. (It often plays out like a private conversation that might be going on in your head.) Harry and Johannes are their own characters as well as aspects of many of us. And while it doesn’t have the romantic breadth of Before Sunrise or the sting of Weekend, it nestles between those two pinnacles snugly.