Projections - Movie Reviews

Boys Don't Cry

With many films around about insecure guys who solve all their problems with one more drink or a gun, Boys Don't Cry appears ordinary.  The performances of Hilary Swank and Chloe Sevigny along with the innocent quality of their characters raise it to a significantly higher quality.

Teena Brandon (Hilary Swank) doesn't see herself as having a transsexual, lesbian, cross dresser or any other sexual identity.  She simply would like to be a boy and one day she cuts her hair, places a sock down the front of her jeans and heads for a bar.  When she moves to the small town of Falls City her name become Brandon Teena.

Brandon becomes a very eligible date for young girls who find him very nice.  He is gentle and understands how girls want to be treated.  After all he does have some insights.  Brandon, however is not cautious or careful, he spends his time in gas stations, bars and roller rinks.  Hanging with the boys, drinking beer and lounging on worn couches watching TV.  When Brandon comes into the life of Lana (Chloe Sevigny) who knows nothing but menial jobs, bars, cigarettes, men with limited ability and violent tempers; she is easily impressed by the flower Brandon brings.  It is obvious their romance will bring tragedy.

Director Kimberly Peirce allows us to perceive the male appearance of Brandon, with slight references to her real sex.  She touches up her hair in a delicate soft manner and her smile betrays a softness that contrasts with the good old boys that surround Lana's life.  Like Mary Martin in Peter Pan we know she is a woman playing a young man.  It's obvious because we know; but she remains convincing as a man.

Pierce slowly builds an atmosphere of danger and impending violence that Brandon and even Chloe are not able to perceive.  The film is slow at times with moments of tension and a powerful violent climax.

Brandon lived in a world of fantasies, which in reality was one in which fear and prejudice prevailed.  It was a world of one more beer to solve a problem and the right to beat, assault and kill as the acceptable courses of action when differences appear.  In this sad location, the standard appears to be the aberration balanced against the love and sexual attraction of the two woman.

Boys Don't Cry
A Top Ten pick for 1999

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