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Boys Don't Cry: A study of Good and Evil...

  • Jul 31, 2000
  • by
Pros: Outstanding performance by the assembled cast

Cons: Disjointed in places

Its easy to see why Hilary Swank (Last Karate Kid III, Beverly Hills 90210, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), won the Oscar for best actress in 1999 for her touching portrayal of Brandon Teena (Teena Brandon), the tortured, confused young woman who desperately tried to deny that she was a lesbian, and instead clung to the notion that she was a man trapped inside a woman’s body. Brandon’s attraction to other women and inability to come to grips with the truth about herself—to make peace with her soul—led her to trouble time and again, and this eventually leads to her brutal rape and subsequent tragic, senseless death. Swank, who has garnered much well deserved praise for her role—was totally convincing as Brandon almost from the beginning of the film.

Written and directed by new comer Kimberly Pierce, Boys Don’t Cry, is based on the true story of Teena Brandon who was killed in Falls City, Nebraska in 1993 after her secret was revealed to the local populace, and the two young men (both ex-cons) could not deal with the truth and killed her.

The film opens with Brandon and his/her cousin putting the finishing touches on Brandon’s new haircut in a trailer in Lincoln, Nebraska where Brandon has lived all of his/her life. You see, Brandon has a date at a skating rink with a girl. Brandon seems to easily convince the girl that he/she is a man by flashing his/her ready tooth filled grin. This grin, a Swank trademark, turns an otherwise awkward short haired young woman who binds her breast and sticks socks down her jeans, into a charming and pretty young man. The ploy fools the girl, but somehow her brother finds out and along with several of his buddies chases Brandon back to his/her cousins’ trailer. Needless to say Brandon is tossed out by said cousin and flees to Falls City, where he/she meets and befriends Alicia Goranson’s (Becky from Roseanne) Candace in a bar.

Brandon then falls in with a gang of Candace’ “White trash, trailer park” friends: John, Tom, Rebecca, and Lana, played by Chloe Sevigny (The Last Days of Disco), whom Brandon falls almost instantly in love with. These people are so obviously lost and self-hating. Most of the time they are drinking, smoking pot and thinking of creative self-destructive ways to amuse themselves. They are so used to the status quo that they are unable to generate enough brain power to get themselves out of Falls City, which made it hard for me to care about any of them. But care I did, at least for Brandon and Lana.

Awkwardly, but naturally and innocently, Brandon and Lana develop a romantic relationship, which consumes a fair amount of the film. Sevigny plays Lana with a touching, sweet, naive innocence that gave me permission to instantly care about her and as an extension I found myself rooting for her and Brandon to succeed even though I know the eventual outcome. The love scenes between the two are totally convincing and lend so much to the creditability of the film.

I will stop here less I give too much of the film away, sufficed to say that this one will touch you, if you let it, in a place we most often hide from others and all too often ourselves. What happened to Brandon is a study in what is worse and what is best about human beings; our ignorance and hate most often lead us to death, but our understanding and ability to see each other’s souls can lead to unconditional love.

I have a new found respect for Hilary Swank and Chloe Sevigny and hope to see them in future project that continue to stretch their considerable talents. See Boys Don’t Cry, if for nothing else than to experience acting in it’s finest hour.

Genre: Drama
Star: Hilary Swank – Brandon Teena
Star: Chloe Sevigny - Lana
Star: Peter Sarsgaard - John
Star: Alicia Goranson - Candace
Star: Brendan Sexton III - Tom
Star: Alison Folland - Kate
Director: Kimberly Peirce
Running Time: 1:54
Rating: R


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More Boys Don't Cry reviews
Quick Tip by . December 09, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Wonderfully acted film based on a true story. Possibly one of the most depressing films I've seen. Watch it when you're in the right mood.
review by . February 08, 2009
This is the true story of Teena Brandon (Hillary Swank), a lonely teenage girl living as a man, "Brandon Teena." She's been in trouble with the law and has no roots. When she comes to a new town, she is befriended by a "family" of perpetually-drunk low-lifes, and is attracted to Lana (Chloe Sevigny), who dreams of going to Memphis and being a karaoke singer. Brandon and Chloe fall in love, angering two men who begin to suspect Brandon's true identity.     Swank's performance …
review by . June 25, 2000
Pros: Fascinating True Story     Cons: Very very depressing, no good ending     After all the hype about this film, I picked up a copy at the local video store. I had heard great things about it and how it really told it "like it is" but I wasn't expecting the horrific violence and sadness of it. I was somehow hoping that this would have a good ending or give some sort of positive affirmation.      My overwhelming feeling about …
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Vincent Martin ()
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I am an IT Professional and have worked in the industry for over 20 years. I may be a computer geek, but I also like reading, writing, cooking, music, current events and regretfully, politics.
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Director: Kimberly Peirce
Genre: Drama
Release Date: October 8, 1999
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Kimberly Peirce
Runtime: 1hr 56min
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