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Worth A Look: 13.46%
Just Average: 6.41%
Pretty Crappy: 5.77%
Sucks: 1.92%

12 reviews, 84 user ratings

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Boys Don't Cry
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by EricDSnider

"Brutal and tragic."
4 stars

In 1993, a sexually confused 21-year-old Nebraska woman named Teena Brandon reversed her name to Brandon Teena, posed as a man, and became involved in a romantic relationship with another woman. When Teena's secret was discovered the consequences were brutal and tragic.

"Boys Don't Cry," a dramatization of that story, is a powerful film if only for the remarkable performance by Hilary Swank as Teena and for the harrowing final 30 minutes.

Strapping her breasts down with an Ace bandage and stuffing a sock down her trousers, a short-haired Teena becomes Brandon. In trouble with the law for various indiscretions, she drifts around Nebraska, picking up on girls and eventually falling into favor with a group of white-trash, beer-guzzling youths, one of whom, Lana (Chloe Sevigny), she begins to have romantic feelings for.

No one ever suspects that "Brandon" is actually a girl. They notice that "he" seems a bit swishy at times, but the cowboy boots and flannel shirts help perpetuate the disguise, as do Brandon's acts of stupid male bravura that help her become one of the guys.

Swank's impersonation of a man is truly disorienting. While she always looks just slightly feminine in the face, one is reminded that so does Leonardo DiCaprio (whom she resembles more than a little), and no one thinks Leo is a woman. For several long stretches of the film, I forgot entirely that Brandon was being played by a female actor, so convincing, both physically and verbally, is Swank's performance.

Brandon's romance with Lana leads to sexual activity, where Brandon is careful, of course, to remain clothed even while making things pleasurable for Lana. This can only go on for so long, but Lana remains naively in love.

Her jealous ex-pseudo-boyfriend John (Peter Sarsgaard), however, and his minion Tom (Brendan Sexton III) eventually discover Brandon's secret. The ensuing action is what gives the film its gritty, horrifying edge.

It would seem, in fact, that the movie is often spinning its wheels, just waiting to get to the grand finale. And why? Most viewers already know what happens, as it's a true story and the film's promoters have made no secret of it (I've not revealed it here merely out of politeness). So the shock is in the graphic details we're shown, not in the acts themselves. John and Tom are never made to seem anything more than imbecilic and ridiculous, so their crazed actions do not add anything to their characters, nor do they provoke thought. (It's not a case of two nice guys who for some reason snapped; these guys were idiots all along.) Basically, we're already appalled at what happened to Teena Brandon when we walk into the theater, and seeing it enacted doesn't really intensify that.

We can guess at Teena's reasons for wanting to be a man -- she's attracted to women, duh, and folks in Nebraska don't care much for lesbians -- and we know she plans someday to get a sex-change operation. Aside from that, we are given only small glimpses into her psyche. So much could have been done with what assumes is a strong desire to be loved and accepted, and the feelings of loneliness and confusion she probably feels. But precious little of this is given us.

Swank, however, makes the most of what she is given to work with, making Brandon a sympathetic, if not entirely fleshed-out, character. Her performance is mesmerizing and bold, and deserving of the attention she has received. Sevigny, too, as Lana, seems yearning and hopeless in her small-town existence, and her affection for Brandon is heart-breaking.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=2233&reviewer=247
originally posted: 06/30/03 03:43:24
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell strong but 2 brutal 3 stars
10/03/13 Trisha Wirt Very powerful movie! Hit home! 5 stars
2/28/11 Captain Slog Such a sad, sad movie 5 stars
12/17/08 Clara Absolutely jarring. Stunningly made. 5 stars
12/05/08 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
8/23/05 Ron Patterson Absolutely Fantastic 5 stars
8/11/05 ES Couldn't care less about the characters, no redeeming qualities = blah 1 stars
3/23/05 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
9/25/04 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
8/03/04 Alexia Absolutely the most touching movie I've ever seen 5 stars
8/01/04 Denisia de Castro Macedo Excellent movie 5 stars
6/25/04 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
1/24/04 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
11/23/03 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
6/04/03 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
3/18/03 Jack Sommersby Uninsightful and a bit exploitive. ChloŽ Sevigny, though, is outstanding. 2 stars
2/17/03 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
12/01/02 Bobi its cool 5 stars
11/15/02 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
5/11/02 Butterbean Swank's performance was outstanding. It's ending put knots in my stomach 5 stars
3/07/02 Mo Anand It was a good movie, but sad...good for indy watchers 4 stars
2/27/02 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
9/04/01 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
4/25/01 timmsy Sevigny carried the last 30 minutes. Should have won Oscar. 5 stars
4/17/01 looni31 Shit hot film 5 stars
3/22/01 Danyo McPee Feelings can be decieving 4 stars
2/20/01 Rocket Boy While Swank was excellent, it was Sevigny's performance that made the film 4 stars
2/10/01 KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi Poignant, disturbing, violent, romantic, relentlessly in your face. The way LIFE really is 5 stars
2/04/01 spunkie Most disturbing film about small town mentality since "River's Edge". Swank= WOW! 5 stars
1/31/01 Vivien Leung strange lesos 3 stars
12/23/00 Connoisseur makes me jerk off... 5 stars
10/31/00 k8e_chapstick@excite.com the most touchign ,amazing film i've ever seen. you will be a different person after wards 5 stars
10/19/00 Stunned Back Into Mikeness I really didn't wanna see this boring-looking film, but it punched me in the gut. Wow! 5 stars
10/06/00 Perverted Pixie Horrorfic cruelty. Swank broke my heart. I can't believe this was all true... 5 stars
8/28/00 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
7/12/00 Tom Strong performance by Chloe Sevigny. 4 stars
6/22/00 fire-n-ice great movie i hated the ending though 4 stars
5/20/00 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
5/14/00 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
3/24/00 Robert P Gray Honest and brilliantly acted 5 stars
3/15/00 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
2/29/00 Matthew Smith Hiliary swank's magnificent performance has oscar written all over it. 5 stars
2/21/00 Bozo Swank will win Actress Oscar, she's great, Hunt & Paltrow before her SUCKED 5 stars
2/10/00 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
12/31/99 jenn "Blu Smrf" this is an amazing film considering the issue that was dealt with, very well done! 5 stars
12/28/99 Malbert Hillary Swank was very good, it was a disturbing movie 4 stars
11/27/99 Kate Badger very well done film....best this year 5 stars
11/15/99 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
11/14/99 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
10/28/99 "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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