Boys Don't Cry


Directed by: Kimberly Peirce
Written by:Kimberly Peirce, Andy Bienen
Starring: Hilary Swank, Chloe Sevigny, Peter Sarsgaard, Brendan Sexton III
Released: March 2, 2000
Grade: B

Boys Don’t Cry is the true-life story of Teena Brandon, a 20-year-old woman facing a sexual identity crisis.  Disguising herself as a man, she leaves home (Lincoln, Nebraska) and sets off to find a place where no one knows her secret and where she can feel free.

On the eve of her 21st birthday, she travels to Falls City where she meets Candace (Alicia Goranson) and is introduced to her guy friends - John (Sarsgaard) and Tom (Sexton III).  Known as Brandon Teena, she fits in immediately and the dream goes to plan.

That is until she meets Lana (Sevigny) and falls head over heels.  Uncontrollably attracted to her, she knows Lana’s the one for her and she says to her brother, “I’m going to marry her”.

Teena’s relationship with Lana blossoms and an intense passionate relationship ensues.  But does Lana know that Brandon’s a she?  You’re never quite sure and that’s what keeps the movie interesting as it unfolds.

Hilary Swank has received wide acclaim for her leading role and her success is warranted.  She is wonderful in the film but I was equally impressed with Chloe Sevigny in the supporting role.  Swank’s always going to get the credit playing the cross-gender role but Sevigny shouldn’t go unnoticed - her portrayal of Lana was sly and understated.

Working against Boys Don’t Cry, is a tiring screenplay.  Sure it’s a true story but it takes far too long to introduce the players and the first hour could only be described as dreary.  As the relationship between Brandon and Lana heats up, the tension builds as you know something is imminent.  Further, apart from Swank, Sevigny and Jeanetta Arnette (as Lana’s mother), the rest of the cast do little to improve it.

It’s a raw, confronting film that director Kimberley Peirce has created which is going to be appreciated by many.  Boys Don’t Cry should be appreciated for two of the year’s finest performances but for me the rest was a tad disappointing.