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Boudicca presents
Boy Meets Girl (R2 PAL) (1994)

"To strangers and new experiences, eh?"
- Anne Marie (Margot Steinberg)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: July 09, 2002

Stars: Tim Poole, Margot Steinberg, Danielle Sanderson
Other Stars: Ray Brady, Chris Read
Director: Ray Brady

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language, violence, torture, sexuality, sadomasochism)
Run Time: 01h:29m:52s
Release Date: May 27, 2002
Genre: cult


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ BBC A

DVD Review

Sometimes one can visibly see a director attempting to stretch boundaries in his films. This is particularly true in areas where there is formal censorship, such as the UK. Although the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has loosened up in recent years, in 1994 it was still ruling cinema with an iron hand. Director Ray Brady's wild take on male-female relations pushes at the BBFC boundaries at nearly every point.

Womanizing Devin (Tim Poole) meets an attractive young Frenchwoman, Anne Marie (Margot Steinberg) in a bar. When she brings him back to her apartment he passes out and wakes up strapped to a dentist's chair. You know from that fact that things are not likely to be pretty, and director Ray Brady doesn't disappoint. As Ann Marie and her confederate Julia (Danielle Sanderson) torture Devin mentally and physically, we learn more about him and what motivates them in their two-woman war on male misbehavior.

Devin is a homophobic misogynist, but Anne Marie and Julia go way beyond what would be an appropriate punishment for his transgressions. It soon becomes clear that the situation is not so much a matter of revenge but of power; the fact that they can do anything they want (and videotape it for their enjoyment) seems to fuel the fire. We thus get torture by microwave, maggots, a comical passive smoking hood and do-it-yourself surgery involving crowbars among other implements. The voyeuristic aspect is central as well; nearly as soon as Devin wakes up, he's greeted with videotapes of their prior victims (including the director and composer) being tortured and tormented, whipped and mistreated. Thus there's little question as to how things will end up for poor Devin. Yet there is a certain amount of suspense as to whether the women will make a mistake and somehow allow him to escape, albeit in damaged if not mutilated condition.

The film contains a number of intriguing juxtapositions. Julia goes on a long discussion of the nature of violence, while she shaves Devin with a straight razor. As she rambles on, the banality of her tone is contrasted with the suspense of the straight razor repeatedly stroking the soft skin of his throat; the viewer is almost overcome with suspense as to when exactly the blade will bite.

The cast is small, but highly effective. Tim Poole makes for a multifacted Devin, fierce, angry, ashamed, humiliated, begging, pleading and broken. Steinberg is a good femme fatale, while Sanderson is more impenetrable—she hardly ever shows emotion—and their motivations are never quite clear. Although they seem to derive some thrill from these activities, they don't visibly display any sort of pleasure or gratification. Anyone expecting an S&M softcore fest will be sorely disappointed. While there are sexual overtones and certainly sexually frank talk, this doesn't seem to be about pleasure, but power.

Finally, worth commenting upon are the interstitial title cards with often ironic, always witty, titles to each of the segments. They provide particular impact on a second viewing when you know what they are referring to, since they're often cryptic in advance.

Not quite as exploitative as the Japanese Guinea Pig films, Boy Meets Girl still can be hard to take. As yet released only in the UK, this disc is PAL, Region 2 and thus requires equipment that can handle such discs.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The original full-frame image looks passable for an extremely low budget production. Color and clarity are good, with decent detail. The video segments are intentionally iffy in quality, so no markdown for those here.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: The 2.0 mono English track has quite a bit of hiss and crackle, making it hard to discern dialogue at times. Again, since it's extremely low budget one doesn't expect much, and this is passable considering the source materials and the circumstances.

Audio Transfer Grade: C

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 23 cues and remote access
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Ray Brady
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Rehearsal comparison
  2. Still gallery
Extras Review: The primary extra is a full length director commentary, which is essential for a film that is as cryptic as Boy Meets Girl often seems to be. However, all becomes clear when Brady reveals that much of the content is aimed directly at things then prohibited by the BBFC. He articulates the particular challenges from the fairly mundane (why may you not show torture with domestic utensils?) to the more complex (why is it okay to write pornography in a book but you can't read the same book on film?). He also explains that much of the violence is a reaction to Home Alone and its use of relatively bloodless but nonstop domestic violence. Like Hitchcock demonstrating just how hard it is to kill a person in Dial M for Murder, among others, Brady here intends to show the repercussions of violence, in heavy detail. At the same time, in a somewhat schizophrenic move, it's also often subtle and implies more than it shows. The commentary also makes reference to the problems of low budget filmmaking and the huge challenges that can arise from filming on weekends and odd moments, particularly when a primary character is unavailable. This is an important commentary that makes this disc a much higher recommendation than might be otherwise the case.

In addition to 25 or so production stills, the disc also contains a unique extra I've never seen before: video of the cast rehearsing, with a comparison to the final product. Four fairly lengthy scenes are included, with Sanderson completely cracking up over some of the torture dialogue. It's interesting to see the piece coming together. I'd like to see this again. It's particularly effective here since the main film is so tense and heavy, and seeing the cast in a more relaxed reading helps the viewer decompress a bit and return to the normal world.

Extras Grade: A

 

Final Comments

A brutal and effective swipe at the British censors, with a nasty wit and a bleak outlook. A first-rate commentary helps increase the understanding of what's going on here.

 


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