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Overall Rating

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 Greg Muskewitz

"One of the most intriguing movies of the year!"
5 stars

The other members of the San Diego Film Critics Society and I are starting to round up the best of the best for our award and voting season. Right now, "Boys Don't Cry" is a front-runner on my list, among others, as one of the year's most powerful and intriguing movies (though I think my favorite right now is "Felicia's Journey.").

Earlier in the year, I missed the documentary "The Brandon Teena Story," mainly because I'm not big on documentaries, and, because of ignorance I guess, I was not familiar with Brandon Teena/Teena Brandon. Now having seen "Boys Don't Cry," I wish I had seen the other film, and I highly await its release on video.

When talking about Brandon, I prefer to refer to him as "him," because in his case, although he may have been born a female, he wanted to be, and was in the process of becoming, a "he." Hilary Swank takes on the role of the hermaphrodite (remember her from "The Next Karate Kid?"), looking very svelte, very trim, and very boyish (with the exception of her grin). One of the things first time director Kimberly Peirce is not readily able to do is to analyze what or what caused Brandon to want to be a he, aside from claiming 'sexual identity crisis' and just saying that he felt like he was a man in a woman's body. I believe that part of that problem stems from the fact that no one but Brandon really knew why, and because of his untimely demise, no one will ever really know exactly why.

If you don't already know, this is based on a true story, on the true Brandon Teena, and the events leading up to his murder in 1993 (or maybe it was the first of the year in '94). In Lincoln, Nebraska, Brandon met a couple people during a bar room brawl, and ended up spending a lot of time with them down in Falls City. There he met and fell in love with Lana Tisdel (ChloŽ Sevigny), who assumed Teena was a male. Eventually Lana was told the truth by Brandon, but she decided to stay with him anyhow because of their mutual feelings of love. However, Lana's ex, who was also one of Brandon's friends, later on raped and killed Brandon upon discovering his "real" gender.

Apparently Fox Searchlight is being sued from several sources by their choice of artistic liberties. One such being the real Lana Tisdel, who claims that the "love" relationship ceased after learning of Brandon's birth gender, but also claiming that she did not witness the murder of Brandon, in which she was depicted as doing in the film, as well as being testified against as being there (but in neither circumstance is or was she involved with the murder --that was not something she wanted).

For the first time in a while, I was really intrigued after seeing "Boys Don't Cry," searching at the libraries, on the internet, etc., for any information about the case and events. Not counting either film, I only found ONE site that dealt with the real case. It wasn't until I searched the electronic library that I found a lot of older articles which ran soon after the incident. I can't read enough about these happenings and find out enough about Brandon/Teena to satisfy my inquiries (however, if you find something which you think might interest me, e-mail it to me at

The performances in this film were top notch, making it easy for you to decide whom you liked and whom you didn't. I think both Swank and Sevigny are very serious Oscar contenders for Actress and Supporting Actress, respectively. Swank is amazing in both a very physically and psychologically demanding role. She had a harrowing presence, but she was so keen on making everybody like her -- whether it be the characters in the film, or its viewers. It must have been incredibly difficult to become and take over the psyche of someone so misunderstood, but yet undocumented as far as motivation goes. Swank's MANnerisms were very well worked out, and even though it might have been a little easier for us to acknowledge the fact that he was a she, that's mainly due because we knew ahead of time that it is a she. Swank was also required to give out some generous helpings of flesh, going all the way --or the "full monty"-- for certain scenes. She was very dedicated to her role, and I really hope this opens some doors for her in the future.

Poor ChloŽ! Somehow or another, she always ends up getting abused in some way, whether mentally or physically, in all her roles. She was infected with AIDS in "Kids," another sexually transmitted disease in "The Last Days of Disco," taken advantage by an elder in "Trees Lounge," killed/disintegrated in "Palmetto," and now psychologically scarred, and even to a certain length taken advantage by another female (up to a point) here. This is my favorite role that I've seen Sevigny in, although I believe that "The Last Days of Disco" contained her best exposť in acting capability. In this, she was sexy, free-spirited, fun, and she obviously drew in all those around her. It was very apparent that she drove Brandon zonkers, and John (Peter Saarsgaard), her ex too. Sevigny did the same for me. She really made me fall for her character of Lana. I wanted her just as badly as Brandon did; she made her appeal seem so easy and otherworldly. But I felt really content knowing that Brandon and Lana were in love; they came together so well it was as if they were the missing pieces of each other's lives. Their romance was such a heartfelt and strong one; it only disappoints me that the real Lana wasn't like that. (But don't misunderstand me: I in no way question or fault the real Lana Tisdel's decision. It was hers and hers alone. My reasoning only comes from the way the situations worked out on screen and I am in no way trying to criticize her choice.)

The male performers were also very convincing; they were hard to like, unlike our two leading ladies. Peirce makes a very stong and auspicious directorial debut. I felt as if she was in charge the whole time, and her artistic vision was never in question. Lots of times I'll complain about time-condensed shots (though they're usually used in conjunction with hand-held cams and quick edits, which is not the case here), but here they only serve as scene transitions instead of taking over as a style during the film, or clustering it up as part of the storytelling device --which it's not. The cinematography was a little gritty, but it was very effective in its portrayal. So it held up on its acting ability as well as it did on the technical aspects.

It's hard to say that "Boys Don't Cry" is one of my "favorite" movies of the year, because it's hard for me to interpret this material as something I like or enjoy. However, I do feel that this is easily one of the best and most well-made movies of the year, with some excellent performances, and a strong and bold direction.

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originally posted: 11/12/99 21:32:37
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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
12/18/08 Clara Absolutely jarring. Stunningly made. 5 stars
12/06/08 Shaun Wallner Well made. 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 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 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
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  08-Oct-1999 (R)
  DVD: 13-Dec-2005


  02-Mar-2000 (R)

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