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Boys Don't Cry

Starring: Hilary Swank, Chloe Sevigny
Director: Kimberly Peirce
Genre: Drama
Year: 1999
Rating: 3 / 5

Reviewed by Guest Scribe Puff Daddy

How is it that a movie can be so hard to judge? I am an opinionated person, and I tell people what I truly think. Honesty is not something I trouble with. However, one movie, Boys Don't Cry, has shaken all of these typically indisputable facts in my life. As my former roommate and curator of this site will attest, I have promised this review for well over a year and I have now come to grips with the movie. To those familiar with the movie, I am going to attempt no to take the universal stance - one wonderfully artsy movie, one for the critics.

That being offered, I will be the first to admit that the movie drags in what can only be characterized as superfluous character development. Brandon Teena (Teena Brandon), played by Hilary Swank, could be one of the most underdeveloped main characters in movie history. Boys Don't Cry is designed to be the masterful documentation of one homosexual woman's struggle with her identity. However, we as an audience are given only one dimension, "tomboy," for a character with which we are supposed to sympathize. At no point in time are we allowed to view into Brandon's past. We are given a small glimpse of prior behavior; however, nothing offers us the ability to draw conclusions on how Teena truly became Brandon.

Due to this lack of character development, Boys Don't Cry forces its audiences to judge Brandon only with individualistic preconceived notions of homosexuality. As Brandon wanders through the journey of falling in love with Lana, a young girl best described as confused trailer trash, the only question arising in the audience's mind is, "How would I react?" Men begin to wonder, "If Lana was my sister, would I be happy?" Women are focused on, "Is love bigger than traditional sex?"

It is this individualistic throw into reality that creates a much larger film. By creating this introspective search through one's own view of sexuality, does Boys Don't Cry transcend the limitations in its script? The audience is less drawn into the film as the film is drawn into them. Can I stand up or would I realize my errors after the fact as does Candace, played by Alicia Goranson of the TV show Roseanne?

Now one must not allow the script's shortcomings to diminish the tremendous job of Hilary Swank as Brandon. She masterfully performs the tough/soft side of Brandon Teena. She is a huge bright spot in a movie where quality acting is not top-notch. Goranson plays just another facet of Becky Conner. Chloe Sevigny is better than average in her role of Lana; however, she is dwarfed by Swank.

After struggling for a year with Boys Don't Cry, it became easy to understand why I struggled. I wanted more. I loved the concept, but I wanted more. I need to understand why. Why is Teena Brandon Brandon Teena? Why is lesbianism not enough? How do you know you are in a sexual identity crisis? With my needs not satisfied, it just becomes obvious to give what it deserves... three stars.


Hilary Swank..........Brandon Teena
Chloe Sevigny..........Lana Tisdel

Certification: Rated R for language and sexuality.
Running Time: 118 minutes.

Additional Info: Internet Movie Database
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