Boys Don't Cry
***.8 GM
Starring: Hilary Swank, Chloe Sevigny, Brendan Sexton III, Peter Sarsgaard, Alicia Goranson


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I believe the impact of this film was ruined for me by a couple of things. I was already familiar with the basics of a documentary called The Brandon Teena Story (I haven't seen it), so I already knew how the story generally turned out - although I didn't know the raping came before the killing. Also, I knew going in that the real life Lana (portrayed by Chloe Sevigny in the film) had filed some sort of legal action against the film, because she claims she was not present at all when Brandon was killed, despite what is portrayed in the film. This sort of inaccuracy made me a little bit wary... along with the uncertainty of whether or not I'd be able to buy Hilary Swank as a boy.

Despite these concerns, the film still packs a punch, and anyone from jerkwater Midwest towns who know better will feel a sickening feeling watching this unfold. The story is that Teena Brandon is a reckless and confused girl, compelled to pass herself off as a boy named Brandon Teena, trying to find the love of a woman without believing she's a lesbian, but although her deception is elaborately detailed, the motivations behind it seem to have escaped her analysis. When she goes out drinking one night, she winds up in a barfight, and then wakes up a long way from her hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska, with a bunch of strangers. She crashes at a young mother's house, hanging around with drunken bastards... one of whom happens to be in a really messed up relationship with the girl of her dreams, a depressed and disillusioned girl named Lana. Her attempts to woo her manage to succeed, much to the chagrin of the bastards... and when Brandon's reckless nature comes back to haunt her, the jig is up and her fate is sealed.

There were moments when it seemed as though people should notice that Brandon was pulling their chains - I could buy him trying to be a teenaged boy, but as a 21 year old... but then again, the people he's deceiving are far from the brightest bulbs in the lamp and are drunk or high most of the time, so it can be easily overlooked. Hilary Swank did an amazing job overall - doing something like this takes amazing dedication and commitment, and she pulled it off as well as it could've been by anyone.

Peter Sarsgaard as the irrational ex-convict bastard John and Brendan Sexton III as the slightly more subtle and crazy bastard Tom really do their jobs well, becoming the ugly ignorant asshole side of the American coin perfectly, looking like every drunken loser who thought he was a renegade badass in high school and still need to prove their imagined superiority to everyone they come in contact with by tossing threats around and puffing themselves up.

The problems I mentioned above contribute to some issues I have with the script - I have no idea how much artistic license was taken with this film, but it seems to me that after being beaten savagely and raped by bastards, you might not even be able to have sex the next day with your girlfriend, much less nearly instigate it. It gives Brandon and Lana one last grab at romance, but it just doesn't seem like it could really have happened. Then again, no one really has a keen sense of logic in this film, so it could easily have been the case.

It's interesting and passionate and moving, but I feel compelled to mention that it's most likely a simple dramatization of the documentary "The Brandon Teena Story," and people get pissed when they do that on Hard Copy or the E! True Hollywood Story.

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