Boy Meets Girl (1994)
By: Dr. Obrero  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Boudicca (UK). Region 2 PAL, 4:3. English DD 2.0. 90 minutes
The Movie
Director: Ray Brady
Starring: Tim Poole Danielle Sanderson, Margot Steinberg, Nathalie Khanna, Georgina Whitbourne, Ray Brady, Myuki Smith Khanna, Susan Warren.
Screenplay: Ray Brady, Jim Crosby
Country: UK
"The English answer to 'Man Bites Dog'" according to the inimitable Derek Malcolm (The Guardian). Personally, I think such comparisons do this remarkable British shocker a disservice. Boy Meets Girl, an inherently dark London-made miniscule-budgeted nightmare represents the flipside of the city dwellers most potent nightmare, the serial killer. This is no Silence of the Lambs however. In writers Ray Brady and Jim Crosby's relentlessly oppressive, deeply unsettling vision of the ultimate urban nightmare the boot is very much on the other foot.

An amoral young married man (Tim Poole), picks up an intended one-night-stand (Margo Steinberg) in an out of his way nightclub. Back at her place, she makes him a drink and slips a blue movie into the VCR. "My lucks in here" he's thinking to himself. Nope, not at all, his luck is most definitely out. When he awakens from his "Mickey" he finds himself strapped into a dentist chair in the soundproofed basement of her flat. It doesn't get any better for the would-be seducer, finding himself in the clutches of an candid sadist, his deranged captor vengefully determined to employ both mental and physical torture to cower the less than thrilled prisoner. This twisted role reversal is additionally captured on video for the compelled edification of future victims. Soon enough, an unrelenting nightmare of shown and imagined horrors begins with an act of invasion, the mingling of their blood -- she may or may not be HIV Positive. Not only is the audience now confronted with a gender reversal of sub-generic tradition, but Boy Meets Girl then totally subverts the narrative leaving the unsuspecting viewer aware that within this chamber of horrors anything truly can happen. The masked accomplice (Danielle Sanderson), hitherto confined to the extremities of the frame suddenly takes centre-stage and brandishing the severed head of his previous torturer, assumes her predecessor's role with a crusading zeal, amplifying the degradation programme. It's time for the captive to undergo a re-education, and to do so he must suffer the tortures of the damned. Cutting between a series of intertitles, which introduce each scene vignette bearing such titles as 'New Experiences' and 'People in Real Life Don't Walk Around With Bullet Holes in Them' and physical tortures such as microwaving his hand, an anal-invasion and home-surgery, allied to psychological mind-games, sensory depravation and drug induced illusory mania, Boy Meets Girl becomes in effect a didactic monologue which culminates in "The revenge for all the men who have 'invaded' and by doing so hurt, degraded and enslaved womankind". Original horror films are hard to come by these days, but Boy Meets Girl is as challenging a piece of work as this reviewer has come across within the conventions of the horror genre. Opening with the famous quote from German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche "When you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you", Boy Meets Girl presents a scenario that suggests unequivocally that both parties are equally anti-social. The torturer is clearly deranged, but the victim no upstanding citizen either. Guilty of homophobia, murder and an unfaithful streak, the very reason for his capture and placement in his unenviable situation in the first place, he is presented as an unsympathetic individual by the challenging script. Is what goes around, comes around the moral of Brady's story? In a sense, yes. The deadpan Danielle Sanderson is the implacable face of vengeance, and in an almost Catholic scenario of guilt and retribution, the victim's sins are revisited in detail as the torture and forced perspective discussion drives him to accept his vices, and ultimately to acknowledge his punishment.

Boy Meets Girl is a thought provoking view of today's extreme society, its bleak tone chilling. Brady's unflinching eye for detail sustains the rapt fascination of the audience in quite brilliant fashion. The documentary style helming (deliberately accentuated by the lack extraneous camera movement) manages to enthral and horrify the viewer and Boy Meets Girl never lets you escape the bleakness of its stark tone, leaving the viewer desolate -- and when finally, at the shattering climax the victim is entirely defeated and conquered the effect is genuinely shocking. Closest in tone to the unremitting style of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer or Maniac than the gloss of most contemporary productions dealing with this sort of premise, and very extreme in its depiction of mental torture and physical cruelty, Boy Meets Girl is convincingly played, superbly written and directed. Unmissable.
The film is presented in a non-anamorphic Fullscreen 1.33:1 (4:3) ratio, which is correct as the film was shot on 16mm. It really isn't a film that would benefit from a widescreen presentation, however it would've benefited from some cleaning up. The transfer appears to have been culled from an old video master and has a very soft picture as well as a number of blemishes. Whilst it has to be acknowledged that the film essentially presents us with 2 people in a dark room, the transfer is also too dark. It is impenetrable at times, yet blacks are a kind of murky grey. Colour delineation and shadow gradation are poor and fleshtones have the appearance of someone suffering from some particularly egregious tropical disease.
The English Dolby Digital (2.0) Stereo soundtrack is adequate at best, though barely so. Dialogue is clear enough is the best one can say for it. Then again, dialogue is everything for this film. It must be noted that it is badly out of sync during the commentary track.
Extra Features
The script is loaded with social commentary and insightful context relating to the victim and his two tormentors. The film's feminist agenda is rather heavy-handed at times, blame is never really apportioned, the characters remain unforgiven, and denied redemption to the very last. So it is intriguing to be able to hear the thoughts of the co-writer and director. The only supplement here of note is a fascinating, solo screen-specific commentary track by director Ray Brady. Brady speaks highly of those involved, explains some of the motivational and contextual aspects of the production and script and talks about the difficulties the film encountered with the (then) British censor. It's a valuable addition to both the film and the disc, and supplants this reviewer's interview conducted with Brady at the time quite significantly. There are also a trio of vaguely interesting Rehersal/ Scene Comparisons, worth checking out for curiosity value and some nonedescript Production Stills. There are also, in theory a couple of PC features; Web links and a Script Link, but this reviewer couldn't find them, maybe those of you reading this will have better luck.
The Verdict
Highly recommended, a cracking film. Boy Meets Girl is thought-provoking and challenging material that succeeds in spite of the criticisms of detractors. Hardly surprising then that it was banned by the BBFC for seven years. The disc is mediocre, but that shouldn't detract from the essential nature of the film. Acquire without delay!
Movie Score
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