Richard Linklater has a lot to answer for. Ever since Before Sunrise, countless indie films have tried to ape the incandescent spirit of that 1995 classic, usually to middling results. Daniel Sanchez Lopez’s Boy Meets Boy is the latest unfortunately failed attempt, and once again reveals the achilles heel of these copycat projects. Before Sunrise might appear improvised but it has a tightly constructed script. Without good writing, watching random people walking around rarely makes for a good time at the movies.
At least the chosen location is charming enough. Having locked eyes the previous night at a club, Johannes (Alexandros Koutsoulis) and Harry (Matthew James Morrison), wander about on a sun-drenched day in Berlin, before the latter’s flight back to the UK. It’s the kind of brief encounter where the goodbyes pre-exist the hellos: the young men know they only have 15 hours together. Most of their conversations are spontaneous – or try to be; they range from family life and jobs to, later, more personal subjects such as monogamy and open relationships. The issues discussed are interesting yet the subpar writing renders the pair’s opinions inconsequential, if not outright annoying. “Quirky” moments, such as Harry showing a film clip by Nazi propagandist Leni Riefenstahl, only induce eyerolls.
For such an intimate two-hander, the leads also have little chemistry. The script may be at fault here, but the cinematography and editing don’t help. An over-reliance on soft focus, like a bad Instagram filter, renders the accidental touches between bodies completely sexless. Even the men’s first eye contact on the dance floor has no heat since, without contrast lighting, their faces are buried in shadow. Instead of getting viewers invested in a budding romance, the film makes you wish Harry would just board the plane and leave.