Boy Meets Girl

Dir: Ray Brady, 1994

3/10

A commentary on violence in the cinema, the exploitation of women in film or boring drivel that is reminiscent of a student film?

Tevin (Tim Poole) meets Anne Marie (Margot Steinberg) in a bar. They go back to her flat where she drugs him and ties him to a dentist’s chair.

Waking up, Tevin is mercilessly tortured by Anne Marie and a second woman (Danielle Sanderson) who is recording the event.

There really isn’t any point to the film. If it has any meaning or is a commentary on something then, I’m sorry, but it’s beyond me.

It’s not a thriller. There’s no cops or hard boiled detective chasing her down or retribution for her crimes.

It’s not revenge, either, it’s just a mad woman.

All I can see is Brady felt the need to make some sort of feminist film, making the protagonist female instead of the usual male.

Maybe I’m just being ignorant but I couldn’t get anything from it.

As it’s a low budget film, the sets are sparse and the acting is a little wooden.

Brady breaks up the film into segments, each with its own titlecard.

These moments cause an annoyance and jar what is an, already, haphazard film.

It’s an early precursor to, what eventually became known as, “torture porn”.

Boy Meets Girl is, unforgiveably, dull. Seeing someone brutalised for eighty minutes is boring. There has to be a point, to it all.

With no real plot, so to speak, you’ve simply got a repetition of scenes.

Inevitably, Brady’s film caused a tsunami of controversy behind the doors of the BBFC at Soho Square.

Chief censor, James Ferman, always considered himself a feminist and found the concept of a woman torturer uncomfortable.

Submitted for a cinema release, Ferman had difficulty in making a classification decision and held the film up for several months.

Before becoming the head film censor, the American born director of the board was a former television director with a string of classic shows to his name like Emergency Ward 10 and several documentaries.

However, he wasn’t particularly adept at the art and failed to make any impact but he never gave up the dream of making something.

Being a censor allowed him a certain degree of control over film, and he took great pleasure in editing films and shifting scenes around all in the name of censorship. This satisfied his thirst for filmmaking. Ferman could, literally, make someone else’s work his own (see Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer).

He hated George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead and re-edited the film with the justification that he had now prevented the film from being rejected and created a very good action film. Top points for arrogance.

Ferman made a deal with Brady where he would pass the film uncut for a cinema release and judge the audience reaction.

Delighted, yet also apprehensive at what the reaction might be, screened the film at two cinemas.

However, Ferman reneged on the deal and didn’t send any examiners to the showings.

Brady received a detailed letter explaining why the head censor wouldn’t pass the film for video.

The 1994 feature sat in limbo for a number of years until after James Ferman’s retirement in 1999.

Independent distributors, Boadicea, acquired the rights and tried their luck .

Things at the board had changed to a degree, somewhat, since Ferman’s departure. The board was no longer the secretive organisation that it once was, there has been a major overhaul of the guidelines and the tyrannical hold that Ferman had, and loved, was gone.

Boy Meets Girl was passed uncut and released on video and DVD.

An interesting point that the release raises is one of equality.

In 2008, Grotesque was rejected a certificate by the BBFC for its focus on violence and sexual violence.

Previous to that, the regulators had also banned, what is essentially, a bondage video called NF713, because of its theme of a helpless woman being tortured. (Special thanks to Simon John for reminding me of this rarely seen and forgotten victim of censorship).

Two films both featuring helpless women and both banned.

Boy Meets Girl has the same premise but with the roles reversed and it’s freely available, uncut.

It is a case of double standards.

Anyhow, it’s a boring and tedious film like most of its ilk and is worthy of a curiosity watch but nothing more.

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