Boys Don't Cry is a film that doesn't try to dress up or clean up its subject matter. It's a brutal, realistic, blistering look at the tragic life of transsexual Brandon Teena. Hilary Swank won an Oscar for her portrayal of Teena, and she absolutely deserved it. In only a couple weeks of this person's life, Swank humanizes a character that is not a sick psychopath like some people in the film think, but rather a human being trying to live the life they were meant to live.

The film opens with Brandon receiving a slick new haircut and heading out to a local bar to converse with the locals as a man. It is obvious right off the bat how good this performance really is. All of Swank's subtle gestures carry so much meaning that we are overwhelmed with emotion for this lead character. Brandon is a person looking for a new direction in life and every time we look into his eyes, we realize how much he wants it.

Brandon's life takes a twist when he beings to fall in love with a new friend he meets named Lana (ChloĆ« Sevigny). Their attraction soon becomes a love affair, much to the dismay of John Lotter (Peter Sarsgaard) and Tom Nissen (Brendan Sexton III), who both suspect that something isn’t quite right with Brandon.

The ensemble in the film is exceptional. Sevigny, who earned an Oscar nomination for her work, is excellent as Lana. She provides the perfect counterpart for Swank, and their romance feels genuine and passionate. However, outside of Swank, I really think Peter Sarsgaard's performance is the best work in the film. It is a pitch-perfect performance of a disturbed, repulsive man that has very little sense of right and wrong. It is a character, like Swank's, that has many layers to it and we get a sense for all of them.

Writer/director Kimberly Peirce has created a profound achievement with this film. It has a tragic love story at its heart, but it also carries with it a larger message. The love story reminded me a lot of the conflict from Brokeback Mountain because the two leads are in a truly compassionate affair, but their surroundings just will not allow their chemistry to blossom. It’s a romance that is made all the more tragic because it can never reach its peak.

This is a film that was made for only $2 million, and even after all of the Oscar buzz it received back in 2000, the movie has still not been seen by large masses of audiences. It is a very tough film to watch, but it is one that deserves to be seen. Its foundation is a powerful story that carries the burden of representing thousands of the other hate crimes that are committed each year. Boys Don't Cry is certainly not a film I would recommend to someone who isn't prepared for the subject matter. It is a movie that truly requires a mature audience as it tackles sexual, social, emotional, and physical issues that are all still prevalent in American society today.


Rae Kasey said...

Hilary Swank was I.N.C.R.E.D.I.B.L.E. in this. I was absolutely thrilled when she beat projected favorite Annette Bening. As good as she is in American Beauty, Swank in Boys Don't Cry is so much more affecting.

Danny King said...

It's a special piece of acting. I also enjoyed Bening very much in American Beauty, but Swank's performance is on another level in my opinion.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

Rolls eyes as I ignore that third line...ha ha. This is a good film though...but I have not seen in a while and don't plan on...but it's beena while totally forgot Sarsgaard was in this.

PS. Welcome back to the blogosphere.

Danny King said...

Ha! I knew you would cringe at this. It's probably not the type of film I would see multiple times, it's a very tough watch.

PS. Yeah, I have been really busy with school, but I plan to pick it up a little bit with the Awards season...Just posted my first predictions today.

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