Boys Don’t Cry
1999 | Drama/LGBTQ | 118 minutes | English
Teena Renae Brandon is a woman who needs to be a man. She cuts her hair short, wears masculine clothes, and stuffs a stocking over her genitals. He (or she) is now called Brandon Teena. When the transformation is discovered, Brandon receives death threats and is involved in a bar fight. Searching for more anonymity and freedom, Brandon moves to the small town of Falls City, Nebraska. He befriends two ruffians, John Potter and Tom Nissen and their two women, Candace and Lana. Lana falls in love with Brandon, but during a sexual moment she discovers that Brandon is a transgender. But no matter what, Lana is smitten with Brandon. She truly loves him. Candace, John and Tom find documents in Brandon’s room that reveal the truth. They are shocked and disgusted at learning about Brandon. In a rage, John and Tom assault Brandon and tsubsequently kill him. They flee the scene while a bereft and sobbing Lana lies next to Brandon’s body. As Lana leaves Falls City, a poignant letter Brandon wrote to her is heard in a voiceover.
Why Stream This Film?
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 88%
- Metacritic Score: 86
Academy Awards: Best Actress (Hilary Swank); Nominated, Best Supporting Actress (Chlöe Sevigny).
New York Film Critics Circle: Best Actress (Hilary Swank); Best Supporting Actresss (Chlöe Sevigny)
The film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
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The first time I saw the movie, I was completely absorbed by the characters—the deception, the romance, the betrayal. Only later did I fully realize what a great film it is. This could have been a clinical Movie of the Week, but instead it’s a sad song about a free spirit who tried to fly a little too close to the flame. One of the best films of the year.
Without sensationalism, BOYS DON’T CRY does a remarkably good job of explaining the specifics of Brandon’s role playing. It is cast and written with consideration for real people and facts. Moving inexorably, and with great innate suspense, toward disaster, it savors the visions of transcendence and escape that Brandon offers. Unlike most films about mind-numbing tragedy, this one manages to be full of hope.
Though six years have passed since the brutal rape and murder of Teena Brandon, the complex protagonist of Kimberly Peirce’s superlative dramatic feature BOYS DON’T CRY, time has only made her story more chilling, more compelling—and more relevant. Anchored by two fully realized performances, by Hilary Swank and Chloe Sevigny, this thematically audacious, technically accomplished film could become one of the most talked-about indie film the year.
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