Boys Don't Cry

Updated June 26, 2020 | Infoplease Staff
Director:Kimberly Pierce
Writers:Kimberly Pierce and Andy Bienen
Fox Searchlight Pictures; NR; 114 minutes
Cast:Hilary Swank, Chloe Sevigny, Peter Sarsgaard

Emotional complexity, relevant themes of identity and acceptance, excellent acting: Boys Don't Cry has them all. This raw, powerful film fictionalizes the real-life story of Teena Brandon. The young woman moved from Lincoln to Twin Falls, Nebraska, transforming herself into a man with seamless transvestism. The reinvented BrandonTeena became well-liked for his charming bravado and alluring sensitivity, until Brandon's secret escaped and she was violently raped and murdered by two ex-cons.

What makes Boys Don't Cry so moving is the masterful intensity with which the film portrays Brandon's brief life. Her multifaceted personality is given full range, and even the murderers—originally Brandon's pals receive history, context, and personality. Hilary Swank performs impeccably as the complicated Brandon Teena, a role matched in skill by Chloe Sevigny as the local love interest. These are vivid and troubled characters, but more importantly, they are ordinary. By examining the everyday aspect of these unusual events, the film hones in on engaging issues of identity and social constraint.

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