Movie Review by Michael Parker
Starring: Hilary Swank, Chloe Sevigny, Peter Sarsgaard
Director: Kimberly Peirce
BOYS DON’T CRY is the powerful and compelling tale of a girl growing up in middle America, who is determined, whatever the costs, to be a boy. It is an intense romance, but also a story of prejudice, based on fact, and a graphic exploration of the intolerance still prevalent in some societies.
Teena Brandon introduces herself to others as Brandon, and dresses, acts and hangs around with the lads. Everyone finds his easy enthusiasm, genuine, sensitive nature and shy eagerness, appealing, and he makes friends amongst a close-knit group away from his home city. His brother pleads with him to take care, but youthful naivety proves his downfall, when the truth finally emerges. The resulting split in attitude among his new found friends provides the climax of the film, revealing an undercurrent of jealousy, disgust and betrayal in some, at odds with the supportive, tolerant understanding of others, with violent and harrowing results.
It is a reminder that a shift towards tolerance of sexual diversity is not universal, and that those brought up in a life of backstreet crime, and old values, are quite able to return to both at a moment?s notice.
Hilary Swank gives an extraordinary performance as the central figure. She may not cut a convincingly manly figure, but as a boyish outsider, there is little for the residents of Falls City, Nebraska to suspect. Her triumph at the Golden Globes and Best Actress nomination at the Oscars, entirely deserved. Nor is she alone, with performances from Chloë Sevigny (also an Oscar nominee), Peter Sarsgaard and others that manage to carry such difficult material with great conviction.
BOYS DON’T CRY is ultimately a disturbing reminder that we are not, perhaps, as enlightened in the 21st century as we would like to think. But as for film-making, director/writer Kimberly Peirce, Hilary Swank and the rest of the cast, prove that the filmmaking can be.