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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.

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3,579 ( 100)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 47 wins & 37 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Brandon Teena
... Lana Tisdel
... John Lotter
... Tom Nissen
... Candace
... Kate
... Lana's Mom
... Brian
... Lonny
Cheyenne Rushing ... Nicole
Robert Prentiss ... Trucker
Josh Ridgway ... Kwik Stop Cashier
Craig Erickson ... Trucker in Kwik Stop
Stephanie Sechrist ... April
... 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 »

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Details

Official Sites:

Fox Searchlight

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Language:

Release Date:

31 March 2000 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Take It Like a Man  »

Filming Locations:

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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

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Many actresses rejected playing the lead role due to the stigma associated with it. See more »

Goofs

The court summons Candace finds in the trash can (for which Brandon traveled to Lincoln) says "Hunt County." The courthouse building that Brandon walks into to pay the traffic ticket ALSO says "Hunt County." That would mean that Brandon walked into the very same courthouse where the bench warrant was earlier issued, but the sheriff tells Brandon that "this is what the Lincoln authorities faxed us over." See more »

Quotes

Brandon: [on Lana] I'm going to ask her to marry me.
Lonny: Before or after your sex-change operation? Before or after you tell her you're a girl?
Brandon: Shut up!
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Crazy Credits

A special thanks to all of the transmen and butch dykes who helped, advised and auditioned for this project and supported the process of bringing this story to the screen. See more »

Connections

Featured in When We Rise: The People Behind the Story (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

That Lady 'Part 1'
Written by Ernie Isley, Marvin Isley, Ronald Isley, Rudolph Isley,
O'Kelly Isley and Chris Jasper
Performed by The Isley Brothers
Published by EMI April Music Inc. (ASCAP)
Courtesy of EMI Records under license from EMI-Capitol Music Special Markets
See more »

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User Reviews

powerful, disturbing human drama
13 May 2000 | by See 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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