Year of Release: 1999
Director: Kimberly Peirce
Approx. Running Time: 116 minutes
My Rating: 3 stars (Out of 5)
From Back Cover:
A true story about hope, fear and the courage it takes to be yourself, Boys Don't Cry is "one of the 10 best films of 1999" (National Board of Review). Critically acclaimed and nominated for two Academy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards, this four star, "must-see" (People), "riveting" (Entertainment Weekly) drama features incredible performances by Hilary Swank and ChloŽ Sevigny.
I'm not going to deny that I do not understand the transgendered lifestyle. For those who do not know what that means, a person who is transgendered believes that he or she was born with the wrong set of reproductive organs. He or she will often refer to himself/herself as a person of the opposite gender - even to the point of adopting a name specific to that gender and dressing in clothing specific to that gender in an attempt to become that gender. Often people of this condition never get the psychological and surgical help they need because, finding employment especially hard to come by, they often live at or below the poverty line. This makes them particularly subject to hate crimes and domestic violence.
Teena Brandon, or simply "Brandon" as she called herself, was one of these people. Born female but believing herself to be male, she began having relationships - and sex - with other girls under the guise of a boy. One such relationship - with a girl named Lana Tisdale - would ultimately lead to her demise. Lana was a young factory employee who had become friendly with ex-con John Lotter. At first, Lotter and Teena were friends, but when it came to light that "Brandon" was physiologically female, he and friend Tom Nisson abducted and raped her, threatening to take her life if she reported the crime. Defiantly, she went to the police - who treated the situation like it was her fault. Still, her assailants made good on their threat - murdering not only her, but two other innocent victims as well.
As fascinating as the situation and film are, Brandon's story is not unique. A simple search of the web will reveal countless other victims of such crimes. That being said, there are those who would argue that Brandon brought it upon herself by lying to the people around her - indeed the defense used that very notion during the trial - but I don't think it's fair to place any judgement upon people with this condition, unless you yourself are also struggling with it.
All that being said, I purchased this film because I wanted to get a look at some of Peter Sarsgaard's work. After seeing his stellar performance in Kinsey, I chose this film because his role is the polar opposite of the other. And while performances all around - including Hilary Swank's Oscar winning turn as "Brandon Teena" - are excellent, I could only give this film 3 stars because - as a piece of entertainment - it falls short. It's a fascinating watch to be sure, but only in the initial viewing. It is not a film that I have any desire to see again.
Rated R (MPAA)
Gay (LGBT) Interest