In late 1993, Brendan Teena/Teena Brandon, a transman/lesbian was a victim of a crime that eventually became a tragedy. Two Years Later, first time filmmaker Kimberly Peirce (Stop-Loss, 2013 remake of Carrie) made a short film called, “Boys Don’t Cry” about the life of Brandon before Kim expanded it as a full length motion picture starring Hilary Swank as Brandon Teena/Teena Brandon.
Boys Don’t Cry was released in 1999. It earned critical acclaim from critics including Roger Ebert who describes the film as a romantic tragedy as “Romeo & Juliet set in a trailer park.” It managed to make enough cash at the box office.
The film went on to receive nominations at The 72nd Academy Awards & The 57th Golden Globes for Best Actress (Hilary Swank) & Best Supporting Actress. (Chloë Sevigny) Hilary took home Best Actress from each award ceremony.
Now that Hilary Swank is working on an FX series under the name “Trust,” which is also based on true events. I want to share what’s good or bad about her Oscar winning performance and movie that made her a high profile actress.
For those who aren’t familiar with the life story of Brandon Teena, I’ll give you guys & gals a chance to view this article as a NON-SPOILER review. If you never seen the film, feel free to read it.
Positives & Negatives
Positive: Hilary Swank & Chloë Sevigny both did an excellent job for their respective performances. Did you know that Hilary actually dressed up as a boy for a month to prepare for the role? I’m giving her an Extra Point for her dedicated approach to become Brandon.
Other Cast Members including Peter Sarsgaard & Alicia Goranson both did a good job for their performances.
Kimberly Peirce did an amazing job for directing and writing her big screen debut. She also did extensive research on Brandon’s life.
Fun Fact: Kimberly Peirce is a lesbian in real life. I don’t think it’s a problem, I realize that she made this film, because she relates to Brandon’s external/internal conflict. By the way, Kim also worked with an actress named Chloe in a remake called Carrie. If that doesn’t ring a bell, Chloe Grace Mortez played the title character based on Stephen King’s debut novel.
Chemistry between Brandon & Lana felt organic. As the film progresses, you will definitely care about them being perfect for each other. The romance is one of the main highlights involving the pair.
If you’re a big fan of The Cure, their song “Boys Don’t Cry” appears in the actual film. The title is named after the song as well.
Besides lying to his/her friends, Brandon has a criminal record.
Even though Lana can act rude towards her friends & family, deep down she actually cares for he relationship with Brandon. Without giving anything away, a pivotal scene shows Lana that she’s a sweet person.
Despite taking place in Nebraska, the movie was actually shot in a small town located in Texas as scouting locations. I’ll give this an Extra Point, because I’m a Texan myself!
According to Kimberly, the film is influenced by the works of John Cassavetes & Martin Scorsese.
Cinematography felt normal without suffering technical difficulties.
Primary Themes listed for the movie are, Deception, Discrimination, Peer Pressure, Identity, Gender, Abuse & Love. Each mature theme is carefully used to make us care about how much Brandon is going through. Most notably, lying towards his/her peers in order to fit in as a man.
The movie ends with a “Where Are They Now” scenario.
Negative: If you’ve seen the film or familiar why Brandon’s case, it’s very sad. If you don’t know about it. You really don’t wanna know, you’re gonna have to see for yourself. If you have kids, grandkids, nephews or nieces, don’t let them watch this movie!
The Final Verdict: A, FOR APEX!
Boys Don’t Cry is a tremendous breakthrough for Hilary Swank which made her a household name. I’ll give this film credit for encouraging Christopher Nolan (who is my favorite filmmaker of all time) for casting Hilary in Insomnia, after watching her Oscar winning performance as Brandon Teena. Chloë Sevigny did a wonderful performance as Brandon’s love interest.
Correct me if I’m wrong, perhaps Kimberly Peirce & Sofia Coppola opened the doors to encourage a wave of aspiring female directors in the modern age to direct their own acclaimed works to portray a realistic female protagonist that women can relate to in a dramatic conflict alongside the director’s perspective who takes creative responsibility for a selective project in terms of fleshing out the narrative and character development.
If it weren’t for Boys Don’t Cry, female directors including Patty Jenkins, (Monster, Wonder Woman) Jennifer Lee, (Frozen and its upcoming sequel) Greta Gerwig, (Lady Bird) & Julie Taymor. (Titus, Across The Universe)
For those who are women who want to make it to the film industry, watch Boys Don’t Cry as a guide to help you conceive your own pet projects in terms of constructing a narrative, characters, setting etc. I hope Kim gets back on track after the Carrie remake earned mixed reception.
Kimberly Pierce if you’re reading this, I respect you for making this film, I fully understand the meaning on why you want to make Boys Don’t Cry as your directorial debut. Upon watching this movie for the first time, I respect your sexuality as I’m neutral towards The Gay Community and your film changed my perception towards gay people.
Kim if you want to get back on the saddle, I suggest other possible reasons projects that could possibly suit well such as a Black Widow solo movie based on Scarlet Johansson’s character in The Avengers, a Batgirl film or something that interests you.