Movie reviews: Boys Don’t Cry (1999)

8 Nov

The 1999 release of Boys Don’t Cry chronicles the true life story of the final months of Brandon Teena (Born Teena Renae Brandon). This is a compelling examination of the relationships, emotions, internal and external struggles of a twenty one year old transsexually identified man living in the Falls City region of Richardson Nebraska. What you can expect in this movie is an honest, emotionally charged story and performances that at times may be brutal, but only as necessitated to convey the surroundings of what is considered one of the best known and most horrifying hate crimes of the 1990’s in America.

The story is brought to life by the writing of Andy Bienan and Kimberly Peirce who doubled as Director. Brandon is portrayed by Hilary Swank in what may go down as the greatest role in her career which garnered her the Academy Award and Critics Choice Award. Her performance was so strong she won Best Actress for her portrayal of Brandon from 18 different associations with seven more nominations. Chloe Sevigny is perhaps at her best as well in the role Brandon’s girlfriend Lana Tisdale. Sevigny was nominated for the Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress and took home the award from several festivals and critics choice awards.

The rest of the cast was no less stellar including such staples as Peter Sarsgaard, Brendan Sexton III, Alicia Goranson, and Matt McGrath. Each seemingly digs deeper than could be imagined to truly embody those they portray in a manner so convincing reality and the big screen seemingly merge. Without doubt this is a pivotal and important movie as it takes on subject matter we all to often fail to discuss, and at the time of it’s release showed a gritty side of everyday life in America we tend to want to believe does not exist.

As this story winds it’s way through the period in which Brandon leaves his home in Lincoln to reside with his newly acquainted friend Lisa we are shown as realistic a glimpse as any movie of this nature has ever provided into Brandon’s role in society. We see him struggle with his gender identity and can almost feel his pain as he fights to protect his very life and dark secret while still trying to be just one of the boys. Great care is given to his relationship with Lana, legal struggles, and battles with passing as a male while still bound to the special needs of a female body. You will see Brandon’s arrest that led to his forced outing and eventual murder at the hands of the people he called his friends.

This is a movie which is going to make you walk away asking yourself some very important introspective questions. It cuts to the bone, it doesn’t pretend to be a feel good film. It can be for some graphic and the language is adult which merits it’s R-Rating. This is a groundbreaking film that challenged the beliefs of what could and could not be successful in all aspects of the industry and is a movie that everyone should not just be familiar with but see.

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