Based on actual events. Brandon Teena is the popular new guy in a tiny Nebraska town. He hangs out with the guys, drinking, cussing, and bumper surfing, and he charms the young women, who've never met a more sensitive and considerate young man. Life is good for Brandon, now that he's one of the guys and dating hometown beauty Lana; however, he's forgotten to mention one important detail. It's not that he's wanted in another town for GTA and other assorted crimes, but that Brandon Teena was actually born a woman named Teena Brandon. When his best friends make this discovery, Brandon's life is ripped apart. Written by
Swank is not a lesbian at all but a transgendered individual, thus blurring the sexual divide in the best queer tradition
Teena Brandon (Hilary Swank) is a girl who wishes to become a boy Arriving in the small Nebraska town of Falls City, Teena binds her breasts, cuts her hair and calls herself Brandon Teena
When Brandon meets Lana (wonderfully played by Chloë Sevigny), a love affair develops in the course of which sexual identities and gender stereotype is turned upside down
Eventually Lana comes to realize Brandon is anatomically female, but by then she does not care Brandon offers her a caring relationship such as she has never known Unfortunately, Brandon's secret is eventually discovered by two young men, John and Tom, who have befriended him The knowledge that they have been deceived is deeply disturbing to their male pride
The film is based on a true story, which also the subject of a documentary, 'The Brandon Teena Story' (1998). But it is less its status as a true-crime document, more its subtle power to subvert our usual assumptions about sexuality that makes this a notable film, and a key text of the so-called 'queer' cinema
Unlike militant films which proselytize for homosexuality, 'queer' films adopt a more insidious strategy, seeking to undermine such rigid categories as gay and straight Thus Brandon, in Hilary Swank's excellent interpretation of the role, alert to all the ambiguities, is not a lesbian though he/she has sex with women And while he/she has adopted some of the physical attributes of a man (clothes, hair-style, certain mannerisms), Brandon has retained a softness and sensuality which implies a critique of conventional masculinity, and which is the secret of his/her sexual success with women No wonder he arouses the rage of other men
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