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Boys Don't Cry (1999)

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A young man named Brandon Teena navigates love, life, and being transgender in rural Nebraska.

Director:

Kimberly Peirce
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2,659 ( 724)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 47 wins & 38 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

Gross USA:

$11,540,607

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$11,540,607
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Peter Sarsgaard and Chloë Sevigny later appeared with Jake Gyllenhaal in Jarhead (2005) and Zodiac (2007) respectively. Sarsgaard is also married to Jake's sister Maggie Gyllenhaal. See more »

Goofs

At Brandon's birthday party, John sits down by Brandon, and Brandon's cigarette jumps from behind his left ear to his right and back between shots. See more »

Quotes

Brandon: Boy, I... I really fucked up. I borrowed one of Candace's checks, then I got that speeding ticket, and this fake I.D. I guess, I just need to learn to stay home, huh?
Lana's Mom: Brandon, I invite you into my home and you expose my daughter to your sickness. D'ever think about Lana in all this?
Brandon: That's all I been thinking about.
See more »

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

Features Battle of the Worlds (1961) See more »

Soundtracks

Fan Blades of Love
Written by Ed Hall
Performed by Ed Hall
Published by Thoomp Ka-Bloosh (BMI)
Courtesy of Trance Syndicate
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Sometimes they do
17 September 2001 | by DeeNine-2See all my reviews

(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon.)

This movie really made me think about sexual differences and what it means to have a sex change or to want one, or to be trapped in a gender you don't want. It was very effective to have us see Hilary Swank (who plays Brandon Teena/Teena Brandon) with short hair and male facial expressions and gestures without giving us a glimpse of her as Teena. (Actually we did get a brief glimpse in a photo.) Swank looks like a boy, acts like a boy, in fact works hard to be a boy; indeed that is (sadly) part of what this movie is about, what it means to be a boy in middle America as opposed to being a girl. And then when we have the scene with the tampons and the breast wrapping and we see her legs, the effect is startling, an effect possibly lost on those who knew that the person playing Brandon was a woman. It was when I saw her legs and could tell at a glance that she was a woman with a woman's legs that I realized just how subtle, but unmistakable are the anatomical sexual differences, and how convincing Swank's portrayal was.

I was reminded as I watched this of being a young person, of being a teenager and going through all the rituals and rites, unspoken, unplanned, without social sanction, that we all go through to prove our identity, because that is what Brandon was so eager to do, to prove his identity as a boy. I thought, ah such an advantage he has with the girls because he knows what they like and what they want. He can be smooth, and how pretty he looks. It was strange. I actually knew some guys in my youth who had such talent, and the girls did love them.

The direction by Kimberly Peirce is nicely paced and the forebodings of horror to come are sprinkled lightly throughout so that we don't really think about the resolution perhaps until the campfire scene in which John Lotter shows his self-inflicted scars and tosses the knife to Brandon. Then we know for sure, something bad is going to happen.

Hilary Swank is very convincing. Her performance is stunning, and she deserved the Academy Award she won for Best Actress. She is the type of tomboy/girl so beloved of the French cinema, tomboyish, but obvious a girl like, for example, Zouzou as seen in Chloe in the Afternoon (1972) or Élodie Bouchez in the The Dreamlife of Angels (1998), or many others. Indeed, one is even reminded of Juliette Binoche, who of course can play anything, or going way back, Leslie Caron in Gigi (1958). Chloe Signvey, who plays Lana Tisdel, the girl Brandon loves, whom I first saw in Palmetto (1998), where she stole a scene or two from Woody Allen and Elisabeth Shue, really comes off ironically as butch to Swank, yet manages a sexy, blue collar girl next door femininity. She also does a great job. Peter Sarsgaard is perfect as John Lotter, trailer trash car thief and homophobic redneck degenerate.

Very disturbing is the ending. If you know the story, you know the ending. Just how true this was to the real life story it is based on is really irrelevant. I knew nothing about the story, but I know that film makers always take license to tell it the way they think it will play best, and so it's best to just experience the film as the film, independent of the real story, which, like all real stories, can never be totally told.

Obviously this is not for the kiddies and comes as close to an "X" rating as any "R" movie you'll ever see. It will make most viewers uncomfortable, but it is the kind of story that needs to be told.


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