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Overall Rating
4.49

Awesome72.44%
Worth A Look: 13.46%
Average: 6.41%
Pretty Bad: 5.77%
Total Crap: 1.92%

12 reviews, 84 user ratings


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Boys Don't Cry
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Stunning true-life fable of doomed love and doomed freedom."
5 stars

Now that Hilary Swank has won the Best Actress Oscar, perhaps it'll be easier to get people to see the difficult but rewarding film she's in.

Swank's compassionate and detailed performance as Brandon Teena, the real-life Nebraska woman (born Teena Brandon) who posed as a guy and paid a tragic price, is far from the only reason to see Boys Don't Cry, which should not need Oscar validation in order to get attention. But this is America, where the average moviegoer balks at the relatively mild American Beauty because it isn't the usual comforting Hollywood pablum. This nail-tough yet poetic work may still have an uphill climb to find an audience.

When we meet Brandon, it's 1993 and he's already aroused the wrath of local louts, who chase him away, calling him "faggot" ó a word that reverberates with irony and ambiguity in this case. Brandon sees himself as a heterosexual male who happens to have been born with female equipment. The way he sees it ó and the movie agrees ó he is male, so it's not as coy as it may seem to refer to him as "him." Brandon's very name carries an aura of '50s teen-heartthrob angst ó Brando and James Dean, both also sexually ambiguous. Director Kimberly Peirce, who wrote the script with Andy Bienen, treats Brandon partly as an iconic image of freedom ó a sort of rebel without a penis ó yet the movie also has an edge of bitter '90s realism.

Brandon flees to another town, where he sets about getting into hot water all over again. He goes home with Candace (Alicia Goranson of Roseanne), a young mother and bar waitress, but is drawn to one of Candace's friends ó Lana (Chloe Sevigny), a brooding girl who hates the rural life but lacks the energy to get out. Lana's backstory is as tangled as a soap opera: her mother's boyfriend John (Peter Sarsgaard), an amiable ruffian whose mood can turn from jolly to vicious on a dime, isn't much older than Lana is, and she hangs out with him and his buddy Tom (Brendan Sexton III), getting stoned and waiting for something. Brandon, it turns out, is the something she's been waiting for.

We can't miss the irony that Brandon treats Lana more gently and reverently than any man Lana has encountered before; the movie suggests that only a woman can truly understand another woman's needs, and yet Brandon is in boy mode. At times he seems to contain both genders at once, shifting like sexual mercury. Swank's nervous ardor in her scenes with Sevigny is first-rate and touching, and Sevigny, in the less showy role, gives a fully alert performance as an unconscious girl who blooms under Brandon's affections. When the flighty, skinny guy and the sleepy, fleshy girl come together, genuine erotic sparks fly. Yet we understand, sadly, that part of the excitement comes from the danger involved.

Wisely, Peirce doesn't sanctify Brandon. He was pretty screwed up, and made a parade of big mistakes trying to capture the life he wanted. Most sane people would agree that recklessness (downright foolishness, at times) shouldn't be an offense punishable by rape and murder, but that's how Brandon's short story ends. The movie pulls us where we don't really want to go ó the moment of discovery, the violence and pain. But this is not so much a morality or cautionary tale as a dark fairy tale about a prince who died for love.

You're left with a disturbing raft of "ifs": If Brandon had lived somewhere else; if Brandon had found a support group, cleaned up his act, gotten on the path to gender-reassignment surgery or whatever he needed; or simply if Brandon had made it out of Nebraska with Lana. But what then? 'Boys Don't Cry' is a fable about the fragility of love and freedom; it says that the most precious thing about both is that they can end in a heartbeat.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=2233&reviewer=416
originally posted: 02/01/07 14:59:15
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell strong but 2 brutal 3 stars
10/04/13 Trisha Wirt Very powerful movie! Hit home! 5 stars
3/01/11 Captain Slog Such a sad, sad movie 5 stars
1/23/11 PAUL SHORTT WELL MADE, DARING DRAMA WITH SOME GREAT PERFORMANCES 4 stars
12/18/08 Clara Absolutely jarring. Stunningly made. 5 stars
12/06/08 Shaun Wallner Well made. 5 stars
7/08/08 art BRILLANT,SUPERB A MIDWEST VERISON OF MYRA BRECKINRIDGE 5 stars
2/05/07 glitter girl what a powerful and sad movie... you may know someone like this and not even know it.. 5 stars
8/18/06 Lauren Absolutely fabulous. Swank and Sevigny offer stellar performances. 5 stars
4/24/06 imran reveals the issues of society Good movie 3 stars
8/24/05 Ron Patterson Absolutely Fantastic 5 stars
8/12/05 ES Couldn't care less about the characters, no redeeming qualities = blah 1 stars
3/24/05 katie wright i think lana was the master mind behind the crimes 5 stars
12/23/04 Nick Boyd Very well acted, moving story 5 stars
9/26/04 Brigitte Sad, but powerful story.Very realistic. 5 stars
9/26/04 NJ Cup Winner 95-00-03 In its own category, which, coming from me, is the highest compliment 5 stars
8/27/04 ELI ARG!!!!! It's so DEPRESSING!!!!!!!!! Good movie! 5 stars
8/04/04 Alexia Absolutely the most touching movie I've ever seen 5 stars
8/02/04 Denisia de Castro Macedo Excellent movie 5 stars
6/26/04 Eric One of the dumbest movies I have ever seen, seriously 1 stars
2/29/04 Liz The movie is very good and i like it. 5 stars
1/25/04 Elena I wish bad critics weren't allowed to post reviews! :P 5 stars
1/17/04 linda wang it's the best moving movie i've ever seen!!! 5 stars
11/24/03 Shams Huque Swank was incredible. 5 stars
11/12/03 alia i absolutly loved that film it was amasing 5 stars
6/11/03 Jareth I just can't find fault with it, one of the most powerful films I've ever seen. 5 stars
6/05/03 Charles Tatum Don't let the sleaze fool you 2 stars
3/26/03 Marcia Lartz C'mon Chris Parry, just call it awesome. Don't do it a disservice with your caustic review. 5 stars
3/19/03 Jack Sommersby Uninsightful and a bit exploitive. ChloŽ Sevigny, though, is outstanding. 2 stars
2/18/03 Pyli Amazing... i loved it, it's one of those movies that changes the way u look some things. 5 stars
12/18/02 mylen cee exeptional 5 stars
12/02/02 Bobi its cool 5 stars
11/16/02 Big Ted Swank delivers an Oscar performance that will be remembered like Streep's Sophie's Choice. 5 stars
8/19/02 willy a moving, harrowing film... cried and cried and cried 5 stars
6/02/02 sdjfsdkjf that was some fucken rape scene. Good film but never wanna see it again. 5 stars
5/12/02 Butterbean Swank's performance was outstanding. It's ending put knots in my stomach 5 stars
3/08/02 Mo Anand It was a good movie, but sad...good for indy watchers 4 stars
2/28/02 Alan Smithee Very difficult to watch at times, but well acted and extremely tragic. 4 stars
2/27/02 malcolm part II she did not deserve what happend, but the lies had to catch up. 5 stars
2/27/02 malcolm reminded me of Sling Blade. don't forget - Teena lied and stole thru the whole movie. 5 stars
9/05/01 Bada Bing Crosby I'm happy to knock the last comment off the board, people are just a-holes here 5 stars
8/28/01 Phil M. Afficianado Acting (capital A) out the shockingly sad reality of man's inhumanity to (wo)man. Stunning. 5 stars
7/30/01 Basil Sad and disturbing, Swank definitly deserved the Oscar. 5 stars
4/26/01 timmsy Sevigny carried the last 30 minutes. Should have won Oscar. 5 stars
4/18/01 looni31 Shit hot film 5 stars
3/23/01 Danyo McPee Feelings can be decieving 4 stars
2/21/01 Rocket Boy While Swank was excellent, it was Sevigny's performance that made the film 4 stars
2/11/01 KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi Poignant, disturbing, violent, romantic, relentlessly in your face. The way LIFE really is 5 stars
2/05/01 spunkie Most disturbing film about small town mentality since "River's Edge". Swank= WOW! 5 stars
2/01/01 Vivien Leung strange lesos 3 stars
12/24/00 Connoisseur makes me jerk off... 5 stars
11/01/00 k8e_chapstick@excite.com the most touchign ,amazing film i've ever seen. you will be a different person after wards 5 stars
10/20/00 Stunned Back Into Mikeness I really didn't wanna see this boring-looking film, but it punched me in the gut. Wow! 5 stars
10/07/00 Perverted Pixie Horrorfic cruelty. Swank broke my heart. I can't believe this was all true... 5 stars
8/29/00 Juan both actresses performed really well, swank deserves the award!! 5 stars
8/08/00 Mic You could feel the tension in the audience in the final half hour. 5 stars
7/13/00 Tom Strong performance by Chloe Sevigny. 4 stars
6/23/00 fire-n-ice great movie i hated the ending though 4 stars
5/21/00 mellemel Good acting by Swank, but there's a reason why the movie wasn't nominated. 2 stars
5/15/00 Tracy The toothy Hilary Swank certain out acted anything Ice Princess Paltrow has coughed up. 5 stars
5/15/00 The Bomb 69 great performances all around, tough movie to watch 5 stars
5/15/00 Chrissy T Hilary looks great as a man, and her acting is first rate. Chloe always impresses me. 5 stars
4/10/00 Ernie Levesque This movie is wonderful and funny and uplifting and so heartbreakingly tragic. 5 stars
4/05/00 PJ What a draining movie, I have to say Hillary Swank gave one of the best performances ever 5 stars
4/02/00 Asun Espes The best movie of the year 5 stars
3/25/00 Robert P Gray Honest and brilliantly acted 5 stars
3/16/00 Justine Briggs The movie is tough to watch but you can't help but be in awe of Hillary Swanks performance 4 stars
3/08/00 Booyah! Amazing film. Did not expect to be so moved. 5 stars
3/06/00 John Baranyai Tjis movie is a must-see. Hilary swank is unbelievably good. Go see for yourself. 5 stars
3/03/00 Pix very affecting 5 stars
3/01/00 Matthew Smith Hiliary swank's magnificent performance has oscar written all over it. 5 stars
2/22/00 Bozo Swank will win Actress Oscar, she's great, Hunt & Paltrow before her SUCKED 5 stars
2/11/00 Victor Ramirez depressing. Beautiful. 5 stars
2/09/00 Jess Bennett Goddamn this movie is great. Its very disturbing and every actor involved is so real. 5 stars
1/01/00 jenn "Blu Smrf" this is an amazing film considering the issue that was dealt with, very well done! 5 stars
12/29/99 Malbert Hillary Swank was very good, it was a disturbing movie 4 stars
11/28/99 Kate Badger very well done film....best this year 5 stars
11/16/99 Bearpaw Very hard, very good film 5 stars
11/15/99 joefire, himself The movie actually wasn't bad -- however it was disturbing and the characters were pathetic 3 stars
11/15/99 Heather Great performance from Hilary Swank, but was annoyed by the white trash characters 5 stars
11/15/99 Ellen Dickson amazing and powerful, the performances were the best I've seen all year.... 5 stars
11/14/99 clara the most brilliant, best-acted, and most emotionally draining film of the year 5 stars
10/29/99 "Wild Bill" Kutzner So remarkably annoying & stupid. Why would anyone like this fucking trash-heap of a movie? 1 stars
10/25/99 Jill Morge 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  08-Oct-1999 (R)
  DVD: 13-Dec-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  02-Mar-2000 (R)




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