The original Head In A Vice link: Boy Meets Girl (1984)
I like to think that I’m at least familiar with most of the major French filmmakers who’ve ever lived, which is why I was surprised that I hadn’t even heard of Leos Carax until a couple of years ago when his newest film Holy Motors (a film I was unable to see at the time) played at Film Forum in New York City. Last year, Film Forum screened a new restoration of his second film Muvais Sang (which I was also unable to see; I did manage to finally see them during Film Forum’s recent Carax retrospective). I recently managed to catch a showing of the new restoration of Carax’s debut feature Boy Meets Girl (which is also now celebrating its 30th anniversary) at Film Forum. The film came specially recommended to me by Will McKinley of cinematically insane and Sara Grasberg of A Redhead At the Movies; I was in need of a recommendation for Tyson Carter’s Recommended By Blogathon over at Head In A Vice).
Written and directed by Carax, 1984’s Boy Meets Girl centers on an aspiring filmmaker named Alex, who has been recently dumped by his girlfriend, and a suicidal woman named Mireille, who is also coming out of a bad relationship. Carax’s screenplay charts their lives over the course of a few days in Paris as they soon become entwined, building to a surprising finale. The influence of Jean-Luc Godard can be felt in Carax’s debut feature, particularly the use of voice-over monologues in certain scenes and a tap dance sequence that is reminiscent of the one from Godard’s Band of Outsiders. Editor Nelly Meunier keeps the film moving at a good pace, never allowing the viewer to become lost. Carax eschews the usual boy-meets-girl scenarios that one might expect from a film like this (especially ones that have become staples of romantic comedies). Though there are some funny and light-hearted moments (such as Alex’s jacket ripping while trying to steal LPs from a record shop, Alex marking on his hidden wall map the date of his first murder attempt, and, of course, the strange conversation he and Mireille have at the party), the film is mostly a heavy drama that cannot avoid inevitable tragedy.
Denis Lavant and Mireille Perrier turn in excellent performances as Alex and Mireille. They effectively convey their characters’ feelings of loss and isolation as well as their neediness (which eventually helps bring them together). The film’s black-and-white cinematography is gorgeously lensed by Jean-Yves Escoffier (I especially liked the shots where there was hardly any light; one shot even had its main source of light being a cigarette lighter). The night time exteriors looked ridiculously beautiful; the new restoration (distributed in the U.S. by Carlotta Films) is very impressive. It looks so good that I found it hard to believe at times that the film was now 30 years old. Boy Meets Girl is a solid debut for Carax, who delivers a gut punch with the very last shot of the film that stays with you long after the credits are over.