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This is based on a true story. It happened in Nebraska in 1993. Brandon Teena (Hilary Swank) was born a girl, Teena Brendon, but has never been comfortable as such and dresses and acts as a young man, with plans to make the full sex change switch sometime soon. He finds himself in Falls City, believing he can escape his past and be accepted as he wants to be. Initially he is accepted and even falls in love with Lana (Chloe Sevigny). But gradually his past catches up with him and he, and all in Falls City, are left to face the truth.

"This is the awful truth about our world: when the unfortunate meets the ignorant, especially in small, narrow minded communities, the end result is often tragic. As Boys Don't Cry demonstrates, we are still a stupid species, having evolved enough to kill each other in a spectacular variety of ways, but too often incapable of simple compassion and tolerance. An old documentary, Being Different, comes to mind: it's a look at the physical freaks of human beings; giants and dwarfs, impossibly fat or impossibly incomplete (no legs, no arms, etc). But beneath the physical oddities are human beings exactly like us in emotional terms. Brandon's story is like that: the sheer fact of being in one way different made almost everyone around her in the small backwater community terrified, paranoid and psychotic. Director Peirce does a great job of telling this story on the screen, using casting, camera angles and framed images as much as words. Swank is perfect as the anguished young wo/man who seeks nothing more than a chance to live and love. My only quibble is with the script in the first half of the film, which tends to meander around the establishment aspects of Teena's personality, dilemma and background. This aside, Boys Don't Cry is searing stuff, and not a film you'd chose for a celebration evening: but that shouldn't stop you from seeing it."
Andrew L. Urban

"This exceptional film is a brilliant study of small town American life and the notion of difference. Using both broad brush strokes and the most minute detail, first time director Kimberley Peirce has created a genuine work of art. In dealing with extremely difficult subject matter due to its sensational treatment by the American media, Pierce has provided us with a sensitive exploration of homogeny, fear, and difference. Every element of this film is masterful, from the script through to its execution. Nothing in the script is obvious. No heavy handed approach. We see the tensions, the anxieties, the doubts. The film is beautifully structured with a slow build of revelation and a tightening toward the inevitable, excruciating conclusion. Yet Peirce presents us with rays of hope throughout. Her casting is superb and the performances of each of the major characters extraordinary. Hilary Swank as Brandon Teena is a major find. She elicits charisma in a very difficult role, carrying the film through every frame. From the opening moments we are aware of a real sense of danger with her, and we hang on for the ride as her character makes catastrophic choices with complete conviction. Every member of the cast contributes to the realisation of this modern, real life version of the classic myth. Chloe Sevigny gives us a quietly knowing performance as the trapped girl who falls in love with the wrong guy as her dream of escape. While Peter Sarsgaard, Brendan Sexton III, Alicia Goranson, and Jeannetta Arnette all provide us with complete portraits of small town inhabitants. The photography is evocative and the editing sharp. This is a must see."
Lee Gough

"When the true story behind Brandon Teena’s rape and murder in 1993 came to the fore it had all the elements of a thrilling drama - secrets, deception, betrayal, romance, sex and at the core, a very young, confused and innocent victim. It was essential material for a media frenzy. No wonder the film was so well received in America, where society obsessively celebrates those people who are in the spotlight and where a re-enactment of actual events provides voyeuristic pleasure. Unfortunately, the story loses resonance in Australia, where we are perhaps a little less voyeuristic and surely less besieged by the news. It is for this reason that the film plays more as a movie-of-the-week/television drama, although with a far greater caliber of acting talent. In fact, Hilary Swank’s performance is remarkable, and she attacks the role in a physical manner so that she is thoroughly credible as a young man. She retains a wide-eyed innocence, charm and wholeness to the character, which transcends the simple fact of her sexual confusion. Writer/director Kimberly Peirce is completely non-judgmental in her depiction of the events leading up to the murder. She does not unnecessarily lay blame. In her view, all the characters are victims, be it of crime, of a society with strict sexual mores, of ignorance and of inherited anti-social behaviour. The screenplay is refreshingly free of any of the sexual identity vocabulary that is so often used to define people (transsexual, cross-dresser, gay) and therefore does not moralise about accepting people for who they are. Peirce should be commended for merely representing the story as it occurred, in a non-sensationalist manner. While her treatment of the subject matter is sincere, the film fails to move the viewer and is ultimately just a depressing story."
Angie Fox

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CAST: Hilary Swank, Chloe Sevigny, Peter Sarsgaard, Brendan Sexton III, Alison Folland, Alicia Goranson, Matt McGrath, Rob Campbell, Jeannetta Arnette

DIRECTOR: Kimberley Peirce

PRODUCER: Jeffrey Sharp, John Hart, Eva Kolodner, Christine Vachon

SCRIPT: Kimberley Peirce, Andy Bienen


EDITOR: Lee Percy ACE, Tracy Granger

MUSIC: Nathan Larsen


RUNNING TIME: 109 minutes



VIDEO RELEASE: July 26, 2000

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Home Entertainment

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