Gender is Queer: A Review of ‘Boy Meets Girl’

boymeetsgirl

Boy Meets Girl (2014)
Written and Directed by Eric Schaeffer
101 min.

Spoiler-free.

Gender is weird. Think about it: there’s two types of a being, and they have to come together in order to procreate. That’s just strange as hell. Like, why isn’t it that there’s just one type of being, and when it wants to make more beings, it just makes them? There’s probably some evolutionary reason for this I guess, like that sexual reproduction makes evolution faster because DNA recombines as opposed to asexual reproduction where DNA doesn’t recombine and thus evolution takes way longer (I checked Yahoo Answers) but still, it’s weird. I don’t care that it’s why we’re here and why we continue to be here—it just doesn’t jive with our modern minds, conceptually. We like things instant. It’s lame that I can’t just tell my body to make a baby and then a baby happens. Oh well, maybe in the next update.

It’s not just that we’re all a bunch of spoiled technobrats, though—love itself makes us realize how dumb gender is. People don’t fall in love with gender—we’re not a bunch of wandering automatons with procreation as our sole directive. We’re philosophical beings looking for a person that our soul gels with. The downside of that beautiful reality is that sometimes, said person isn’t someone we’re sexually attracted to—whatever, that’s what friends are for. Another downside is that maybe said person is someone you are sexually attracted to, but they are of a gender you are not used to being sexually attracted to. That can get messy.

Here’s the thing, though. There’s a point of time in everyone’s life—whether you’re gay, straight, or bi—where even the gender, or genders, that you are currently sexually attracted to, you weren’t used to being sexually attracted to, because you weren’t used to being sexually attracted to anyone at all. This period is called early adolescence, and everyone goes through it. And because everyone goes through it, everyone should be able to relate to this film, no matter what their sexual orientation.

On top of that, when you think about it, falling in love in general is like falling in love with a gender you’re not ready to fall in love with, because it’s always just that scary, and new, and strange, and confusing, even if you’ve fallen in love several times before. Eric Schaeffer understands this, and has imbued this seemingly specifically-themed film with universal themes. As a result, Boy Meets Girl transcends its Queer Cinema sub-genre and has more to say about love than the vast majority of romance movies.

Far too often, love is displayed on film as a no-brainer—we see two attractive people meet by chance, and of course, they fall for each other. Conflict arises only afterward, and is only ever logistical in nature. In real life, every love is a battle, right from the start. It’s a mental blitzkrieg in which your values, dreams, ideals, and beliefs are challenged—and that’s just within your own brain. I’m not even counting the livened debates that ensue from your incongruent areas, of which there are always some. And when you think about it, how are said incongruent areas not unlike two dicks mashing together, wishing to God that the other was a vagina? Sorry, I had to go for the metaphor. You get the point already though, so I’ll stop. Besides, there’s plenty more about this film to talk about.

The lead actress, Michelle Hendley, is a force to be reckoned with. From her very first scene she’s a star, immediately grabbing your attention with her unabashedly real delivery and presence. Watching her make a cappuccino while bantering with a customer is a delight, and you almost wish it were a real place that you could be a regular at, so you could overhear her on a daily basis.

The supporting cast are mere planets orbiting around the sun that is her, but hell, planets are cool too (science fact: we live on one!) and Eric gives each a chance to shine in their own right and showcase their range—sometimes unexpectedly so. One of the people in this film, I wrote off as dead weight, and then halfway in I discovered I was being deliberately lead to believe that so that I could then be wowed. I love when that happens—last time it did, I was watching that show Derek. I won’t tell you which character it eventually happened with, but if you’ve seen the show, you know who I’m talking about.

It takes great writing to pull off twists and turns of that nature on a character level. You really have to understand motivation—why people do what they do. That’s something that’s missing from a lot of films—‘bad’ characters in particular are often bad for boring, ‘seven deadly sins’-esque reasons (greed, lust, envy, etcetera). In reality, most people are generally good, and do bad things only out of impulse—they aren’t thinking, they’re confused, they’re scared. Douglas Sirk was the king of showcasing this aspect of human nature, and in fact, this kinda feels like a modern day Sirk movie, which is refreshing. It has that great, swirling vibe where you’ve got this fairly small circle of people in a quaint setting, and everyone is given opportunities to do the right thing, chances to step up to the plate and redeem themselves—the drama and suspense lies in whether they will choose to rise to the occasion or not.

Similarly refreshing is how unabashedly sex-positive this movie is. The way sex is portrayed in film and TV these days, its easy to forget that it can be a way for people to connect deeply. Often it’s just shown as guttural, empty satisfaction, as though that is all it can ever be. Even more bizarre is that most of the filmmakers depicting sex in this way are liberals—I don’t know when the hell sex as a beautiful thing became ‘old-fashioned’ and ‘uncool’, but it seemingly has, and that needs to be stopped. Here’s hoping this movie will in some small way help flip things back to normal.

Because of its sexual content and adult language, this movie will probably get an R-rating, which is a shame, because I can think of no better film for a teenager to watch. We live in a world where PG-13 movies dripping with violence and destruction are encouraged entertainment for budding minds and bodies, while movies like these are shunned from society, relegated to the ‘Special Interest’ section of the chain movie-and-music store, or tossed without care into the pig trough that is Netflix. Thankfully, these needle-in-a-haystack movies always seem to have a universe-guided homing beacon attached to them, silently guiding the right person at the right time towards finding it.

Keep this one on your radar—it may not find its audience right away, but I do believe it’ll at some point go down as not only an important LGBT film, but one of the most important romance films of the last 20 years.

4 out of 5 Codys.

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