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Boys Don't Cry (1999)

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Female-born Teena Brandon adopts his male identity of Brandon Teena and attempts to find himself and love in Nebraska.

Director:

Kimberly Peirce
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Popularity
3,550 ( 255)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 47 wins & 37 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Hilary Swank ... Brandon Teena
Chloë Sevigny ... Lana Tisdel
Peter Sarsgaard ... John Lotter
Brendan Sexton III ... Tom Nissen
Alicia Goranson ... Candace
Alison Folland ... Kate
Jeannetta Arnette ... Lana's Mom
Rob Campbell ... Brian
Matt McGrath ... Lonny
Cheyenne Rushing Cheyenne Rushing ... Nicole
Robert Prentiss Robert Prentiss ... Trucker
Josh Ridgway Josh Ridgway ... Kwik Stop Cashier
Craig Erickson Craig Erickson ... Trucker in Kwik Stop
Stephanie Sechrist Stephanie Sechrist ... April
Jerry Haynes ... Judge
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Storyline

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 Zhe

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A true story about finding the courage to be yourself.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence including an intense brutal rape scene, sexuality, language and drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Fox Searchlight

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

31 March 2000 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Take It Like a Man See more »

Filming Locations:

USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$73,720, 10 October 1999, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$11,533,945, 21 May 2000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Lisa Jakub auditioned with Hilary Swank for the part of Brandon/Teena. Hilary showed up dressed like a boy; and walked and talked like a boy. The only thing Lisa had done was put her hair in a ponytail, and walked into the audition, hoping to get it over and done with. Lisa said that Hilary was committed to the role, and rightfully deserved it. See more »

Goofs

This film is said to take place in Nebraska. When the girls are driving down the highway at night the Dallas skyline is clearly visible. See more »

Quotes

Tom Nissen: [about John] Doctors say he got no impulse control. I'm the only one who can control that fucker.
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Crazy Credits

Thanks to ... everyone who volunteered to speak about his or her experiences and help with research. See more »

Alternate Versions

The double rape caused some big problems with the MPAA and had to be trimmed to avoid an NC-17 rating. The European version is more explicit (especially with the first rapist.) See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Oscars (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Cod'ine
Written by Buffy Sainte-Marie (as Buffy Sainte Marie)
Performed by The Charlatans
Published by Almo Music Corp. as administrator for Gypsy Boy Music, Inc. (ASCAP)
Courtesy of The Charlatans
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User Reviews

powerful, disturbing human drama
13 May 2000 | by Buddy-51See all my reviews

The most impressive aspect of `Boys Don't Cry' is that it refuses to shy away from the sordid details of much of its protagonist's life, yet manages to convert her (or him if you prefer) into a sympathetic and comprehensible figure. In our most honest moments, we can all acknowledge aspects of our own lives and personalities that we don't understand, that we would love to change and that often make us feel alienated from the `norm' of society at large. In the case of Teena Brandon – a young man `trapped' in a woman's body - the anomaly happens to be a more pronounced and certainly less socially acceptable one than most of us are forced to endure in our lives. And she paid the ultimate price society demands from those it fears and does not understand: she was murdered in Nebraska in 1993, simply for being `different.'

The film builds a convincing case for compassionate understanding without converting Brandon into a saint-like figure. Not only do we witness the petty criminality of her life, but we see her propensity for duplicity and deception, a personality trait that actually leads in part to many of the troubles she encounters, playing a crucial role to a large extent even in her death itself. Yet, given society's out-of-hand rejection of transgendered people, what real options but a life of dishonesty is Brandon really given? Similarly, Lana, the young woman with whom Brandon falls in love and the one person who has ever accepted Brandon unconditionally for what she is, suffers from a number of her own demons.

Credit writer/director Kimberly Pierce and co-writer Andy Bienen for not taking the easy commercial path of reducing the moral complexities of the personalities involved to a black-and-white world where good and evil are displayed in neatly arranged patterns for our easy consumption. There are many times in this film when literally none of the people we are involved with are the slightest bit appealing. The filmmakers, in their faith in our maturity, ask us to go along on a pretty harrowing journey at times, but it is one that leads us to a very rewarding destination. The scenes in which Brandon's companions expose her secret is riveting and terrifying in its dramatic intensity and human sadness. The utter humiliation Brandon is forced to endure at the hands of the hooligans who are tormenting her broadens to become a symbolic representation of every person who has suffered such an injustice at the hands of unreasoning ignorance for whatever reason. It is a chilling reminder of the danger of the mob mentality unrestrained by empathy and enlightenment.

Like so many of the best off-Hollywood independent productions, `Boys Don't Cry' finds its truth in two crucial elements: the canny depiction of the bleak sterility and stifling provincialism of its Midwest setting and the uniformly first-rate performances by a largely unknown set of actors.

Hilary Swank, in her Oscar-winning turn as Brandon, and Chloe Sevigny as Lana achieve a naturalism in their portrayals that neutralizes any theatricality that might have robbed the film of its indispensable quality of immediacy and believability. They convert what might, in less capable hands, have become little more than a sensationalized freak show into a powerful and understandable drama about real, thoroughly recognizable human beings. For that alone, `Boys Don't Cry' becomes a cinematic experience impossible to forget


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