- Boys Don't Cry (film)
name = Boys Don't Cry
caption = Theatrical release poster
Christine Vachon Eva Kolodner
Kimberly Peirce Andy Bienen
Hilary Swank Chloë Sevigny Peter Sarsgaard Brendan Sexton III
cinematography = Jim Denault
editing = Tracy Granger
Fox Searchlight Pictures IFC Films
October 22, 1999
runtime = 118 min.
language = English
budget = $2 million
gross = $11,533,945
website = http://www.foxsearchlight.com/boysdontcry/
amg_id = 1:181064
imdb_id = 0171804
"Boys Don't Cry" is a 1999 independent
drama filmbased on the real-life story of Brandon Teena, a transgenderwho was raped and murdered on December 31, 1993by his male friends after they found out he had female genitalia. The film features Hilary Swankas Brandon Teena and Chloë Sevignyas Brandon's girlfriend Lana Tisdel.
"Boys Don’t Cry" received overwhelmingly positive acclaim from critics, especially the two lead performances from Swank and Sevigny, and considering its reasonably low budget, and independent production, it was a box office success, with most of the success coming from word of mouth and critical views. Swank was awarded the
1999 Academy Awardfor Best Actress, and Sevigny was nominated for the Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress.
The film is set in
Lincoln, Nebraska, and Falls City, Nebraska, but was filmed in Greenville, Texas, a small town about 45 miles northeast of Dallas. Its release was concurrent with the murder of a young gayman, Matthew Shepard, which sparked additional public interest in the film. [cite web|title=Boys Don't Cry (1999)|publisher=Yahoo! Movies|url=http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/1800020738/details|accessdate=2007-05-26]
Teena Brandon is a biological female who identifies and lives life as a male, under the name of Brandon Teena. Kicked out of his cousin’s trailer following a chase of guys threatening to kill him for dating their sister and involved in a bar fight on the same side as John Lotter, Brandon moves to
Falls City, Nebraskawhere he develops a friendship with ex-convicts John and Tom Nissen, Lana Tisdel and Candace. Brandon becomes romantically involved with Lana, who is unaware ofhis biological sex. Brandon moves in with Lana and her mother.
Soon after, Brandon is jailed for charges from prior to his move to Falls City. He is put in the women’s section of the Falls City prison. Lana then provides money to get Brandon out of jail on bail. Upon questioning Brandon on why he was put into a woman’s prison, Brandon falsely tells Lana he was born a
hermaphrodite, and will soon receive a sex change. Lana then declares her love for Brandon, "no matter what [he is] " and the two continue their relationship. Her circle of friends (Lotter, Nissen and Candace) subsequently learns that Brandon is female; Candace is not distressed over the discovery, but Nissen and Lotter become extremely angered. They then come after Brandon while he is staying at Lana’s mother’s house where they force Brandon to strip off his pants, to reveal to Lana that he is a biological female.
Later on that week, Nissen and Lotter pursue Brandon and violently rape him in Nissen's car near a meat processing plant. They return with Brandon to Nissen's house. Although injured, Brandon escapes from Nissen's bathroom by climbing out the window. Lana convinces him to file a police report, though Brandon had been warned by Nissen and Lotter to remain silent. Brandon, in distress, then files a report on the situation.
Later on, Nissen and Lotter become drunk, and despite Lana's warnings, set out to kill Brandon. He is hiding in a farm-house with Candace and her baby. Lotter shoots Brandon and Candace while Lana screams desperately for them to stop. Lotter and Nissen continue shooting Brandon. Lana wakes up on Brandon's dead body the next morning and falls into her mother's arms. The film ends with Lana leaving Falls City as a letter of Brandon’s (written to Lana before he died) is read in a voice-over.
Hilary Swankas Brandon Teena / Teena Brandon
Chloë Sevignyas Lana Tisdel
Peter Sarsgaardas John Lotter
Brendan Sexton IIIas Tom Nissen
Alicia Goransonas Candace
Alison Follandas Kate
* Jeannetta Arnette as Mrs. Tisdel
Rob Campbellas Brian
* Matt McGrath as Lonny
Sevigny initially auditioned for the role of Brandon, however Peirce decided she would be better suited as Lana, and
Katherine Moennigauditioned for Brandon's role. Swank eventually signed onto the project as the lead. Hundreds of other actresses had been considered and rejected over the course of three years. She told director Kimberly Peirce that, like her character, she was also 21 and came from Lincoln, Nebraska. But she was fibbing, and when Peirce later confronted her with the lies, she responded, "But that's what Brandon would do." Swank prepared for the role by living life as a man for at least a month, including wrapping her chest in tension bandages and putting socks down the front of her pants in much the same way that Brandon Teena did. When Swank was living as a man to prepare for the role of Brandon Teena, she was so convincing that her neighbors believed that the young man (Swank in male character) coming and going from Swank's home was her visiting brother. Diane Keatonhad considered directing, with Drew Barrymorein the lead role. Kimberly Peirce first came across the story when reading a long article in " The Village Voice" written by Donna Minkowitz which was published a few months after the murder. Peirce said that she used the same shots in the opening roller rink scene that were used in "The Wizard of Oz" when Dorothy first left her house and entered the land of Oz.
The title of the film is taken from a song by
The Cure. A cover of the song also plays in the background at one point.
"Boys Don’t Cry" drew immense critical acclaim in 1999, and managed to be a moderate box office success, despite being independently financed and a relatively low budget productionndash mainly because of word-of-mouth. It also became a huge success through sales and rentals in 2000. Film critic
Roger Ebertof the " Chicago Sun-Times" listed it as one of his five best films of 1999, stating "This could have been a clinical Movie of the Week, but instead it's a sad song about a free spirit who tried to fly a little too close to the flame" [cite news|title=Review: Boys don't cry|author=Roger Ebert|date= October 22, 1999|url=http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19991022/REVIEWS/910220302/1023|publisher=Chicago Sun-Times] while Janet Maslinof " The New York Times" called it "stunning", giving it four out of four stars. [cite news|url=http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9D07E5DE123EF932A35753C1A96F958260|title=Movie Review: Boys Don't Cry (1999)|date= October 1, 1999|author=Janet Maslin|publisher=The New York Times]
Rotten Tomatoes, a website which collects reviews from film critics and tallies a total score out of 100 (under 60 being “rotten”, over being “certified fresh”), "Boys Don’t Cry" currently holds a 90/100, being “certified fresh”.
"Premiere" voted this movie as one of "The 25 Most Dangerous Movies".
Major details of the actual rape and murder of Brandon Teena were changed in the film version. Most notably, the film portrays a double murder, when in actuality, three people were murdered. A black man, Philip Devine, 19, Lana's sister Leslie's boyfriend, was shot to death on a couch; he was completely absent from the film. Lisa Lambert, 24, was found dead with Brandon. The survivor at the murder house was a baby boy, not a girl as portrayed.
Lana Tisdel sued the film's producers for invasion of privacy and the unauthorized use of her name and likeness before the film's release. She claimed that the film depicted her as "lazy,
white trashand a skanky snake". Tisdel also claimed that the film falsely portrayed that she continued the relationship with Teena after she discovered Teena was anatomically female. She eventually settled her lawsuit against the movie's distributor, Fox Searchlight for an undisclosed sum. [cite news|title=Brandon film lawsuit settled|url=http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4155/is_20000311/ai_n13848099|date= March 11, 2000|publisher=Chicago Sun-Times] [cite news|url=http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2002/03/01/1014704987942.html|title=Seeing doubles|publisher=The Age|author=Philippa Hawker|date= March 1, 2002]
Along with the portrayal of the actual ordeal and the people involved, "Boys Don't Cry" garnered significant controversy for its graphic rape scene. Initially assigned with an NC-17 rating from the
MPAA, the content was strongly toned down for the US release, which was rated R for violenceincluding an intense brutal rapescene, nudity, sexual content, language and drug use.
The director of "Boys Don't Cry" was interviewed for the documentary "
This Film Is Not Yet Rated" about the trouble the film had with the MPAA. 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.)
Swank received criticism from the family of Brandon Teena for her repeated use of the male-gendered pronoun 'he' in her Oscar acceptance speech. Teena's mother argued that her son's transgenderism was a defense mechanism that was developed in response to childhood sexual abuse, rather than being an expression of his gendered sense of self: "She pretended she was a man so no other man could touch her." [cite news|title=Boys Don't Cry: Questioning the story|url=http://www.chasingthefrog.com/reelfaces/boysdontcry.php|publisher=Chasing the Frog] Swank later apologized, but many transgender activists asserted that she was correct in referring to Teena as a man, as this was the gender in which he preferred to live and act.
The soundtrack was released on
November 11, 1999by Koch Records.
# The Bluest Eyes in Texas -
Nina Person/ Nathan Larson
# A New Shade of Blue -
The Bobby Fuller Four
# She's Got a Way -
# Who's That Lady? -
The Isley Brothers
# Codine Blues - The Charlatans
# Silver Wings -
Who Do You Love- Quicksilver Messenger Service
Tuesday's Gone- Lynyrd Skynyrd
# Haunt -
# Dustless Highway -
# What's Up With That? -
# Why Can't We Live Together? -
Awards and nominations
* Won: Best Actress in a Leading Role (Hilary Swank)
* Nominated: Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Chloë Sevigny)
Golden Globe Awards:
* Won: Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama (Hilary Swank)
* Nominated: Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Chloë Sevigny)
* Nominated: Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Hilary Swank)
National Board of Review:
* Won: Breakthrough Performance - Female (Hilary Swank)
* Won: Outstanding Directorial Debut (Kimberly Peirce)
* Won: Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama (Hilary Swank)
* Won: Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role - Drama (Chloë Sevigny)
* Nominated: Best Picture - Drama
* Nominated: Best Director (Kimberly Peirce)
In the media and culture
transsexualvisual arts photographer and model Loren Cameronis acknowledged in the listed film credits and thanked for one of the movie's inspirations.
2006, "Premiere" magazine put Swank's performance in 83rd place in its list of The 100 Greatest Movie Performances of All Time; it also ranked it as one of the "25 most dangerous films".
* In the show "
Sugar Rush", character Kim goes to a drag kingnight and says "Things do go a little bit Hilary Swank."
* On HBO's "Entourage", when Vince is going to play a gay role in his next film, he asks his brother to list people who won awards playing a gay role. Hilary Swank and the film are on the list.
* In ABC's short lived teen drama "
Life As We Know It" when they think that Ben is gay, Dino walks up to him and says "If you're gay just tell us, because we don't want a "Boys Don't Cry" situation on our hands."
* In the movie "" (2007), "Boys Don't Cry" is mentioned, when a character thinks that the girl he is dating is transgendered.
*In episode #1208 of
South Park, The China Probrem, the first scene where Indiana Jones is raped is a reference to the rape scene in "Boys Don't Cry".
Transgender in film and television
Gender identity disorder
* "" - A similar film detailing a transgender-related murder.
* [http://www.foxsearchlight.com/boysdontcry/ Official site]
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