Boys Don't Cry

Critics Consensus

Hilary Swank's acclaimed performance pays fitting tribute to the tragic life of Brandon Teena.

88%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 77

87%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 69,938
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Movie Info

Based on a true story, Boys Don't Cry was adapted from the life of Brandon Teena, born Teena Brandon, a transgender man who chose to live her life as a man and suffered tragic consequences as a result. A true story about hope, fear, and the courage it takes to be yourself, Boys Don't Cry is critically acclaimed and was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards.

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Critic Reviews for Boys Don't Cry

All Critics (77) | Top Critics (22) | Fresh (68) | Rotten (9)

  • The movie lets down the material. It's too cool: all attitude, no sizzle--horror under glass.

    Jan 1, 2000
  • The film is framed, too unquestioningly, as a transgender Rebel Without a Cause, with Brandon the martyred innocent who dies for her infatuations.

    Jan 1, 2000
  • Driven by performances of such luminous humanity that they break your heart.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 4.5/5
  • Lyrical and galvanizing.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: A | Full Review…
  • Swank is impressive in the lead role.

    Jan 1, 2000

    Ernest Hardy

    Film.com
    Top Critic
  • With its constant juxtaposition of blazing nighttime highwayscapes and the flat Nebraska skyline, Boys Don't Cry manages to perfectly evoke both a life spent in aimless forward motion and the stifling boredom Brandon was so desperate to escape.

    Jan 1, 2000

    Gemma Files

    Film.com
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Boys Don't Cry

  • Feb 02, 2013
    Boys Don't Cry is a tragic drama that illustrates the violent intolerance and cruelty that humans can display towards others who appear different, and packs some very powerful performances from Hilary Swank, Chloe Sevigny, and Peter Sarsgaard. Hilary Swank plays Brandon Teena, a transgender boy who falls in love with a girl in a racist Nebraska town. After the others in the community discover that Brandon was born a girl, they quickly turn against him with disturbing and heartbreaking consequences. The film is based on the true story of Brandon Teena, and portrays his story with compassion and honesty. It may be too intense for some, but Boys Don't Cry is a powerhouse of a film that alternately displays the extreme cruelty and brash bravery that humans are capable of.
    Joey S Super Reviewer
  • Oct 10, 2011
    Hilary Swank is a goddess!!!!!!!!!!! A must watch for LGBT community.
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer
  • Aug 07, 2011
    Nothing short of full blown heart wrenching, pit-of-the-stomach empathetic cinema, and it's all possible because of the uncompromising and unsurpassed Kimberly Peirce and Hilary Swank. The striking story of a man, who was tragically born a woman, flows through the actors with ease and a disturbingly coarse elegance. Brandon Teena, Hilary Swank's finest more pure role to date, is a dimensional and wholly real character; complete with cracks and sharp edges. Using simplistic expression and body language to become a man, Swank managed to defy audiences and actually BE a man for most of the duration of the film. The impact and force of Swank's emotions drove the entire story and formed a pragmatic relationship with Chloe Sevigny's Lana. Sevigny, commonly known for her off-the-cuff indie roles, broke down all the walls of "supporting" character, and stood resolutely against the back-drop of Nebraska-freed, broken, gorgeous, ordinary, delicate, bursting. When mentioning those snubbed at the Oscars, Sevigny should always be listed primarily, not only because she created a character so wretchedly real, but because she was still the angelic force, the unfamiliar loveliness, that kept the film so exclusively mystic and magical. Down to earth and exceptionally betraying, the film's tone manages to never stray from authenticity; either a soft enjoyment of romance, or a pounding fury with life's futility. No matter what is being felt, it is being experienced by the audience too. Peter Sarsgard, Brandan Sexton, Alison Folland, Alicia Goranson, and Jeanetta Arnette all deserve their individual sentences, whether describing how masterfully they manage to terrify or how innocently they evoke tenderness, but my skipping over their descriptions simply means they are too intricate and individual to express. Without the charming and harrowing screenplay there would be no brilliance to discuss, no heart-break to mend, but beyond this, without Kimberly Peirce there would be no "Boys Don't Cry". Her devotion to the complete portrayal of Brandon was the ultimate success of the film. Not once did she compromise the character's emotional state, rather she found an array of images and framing choices to complete what would have otherwise been campy or simply "B". Moments of complete immersion in Lana and Brandon's love were left rolling; not cut for censorship, but shown for what it was. Peirce made the film whole, and let the audience revel in what a boy is. Overall, "Boys Don't Cry" was a work of character, not simply the perfection created by Swank and Sevingy, but the work of all the film's gifted actors and perceptive director. A must see film for every child who is confused, for every adult with a prejudice, for every person who has ever loved a film, and for anyone who needs to be shown a gritty and ingenuous honesty.
    Liz < Super Reviewer
  • Jul 03, 2011
    Lana: Shut up, that's your business. I don't care if you are half monkey or half ape, I'm gettin' you out of here! Boys Don't Cry, hmmm, where to start. It's an emotional, powerful, and quite disturbing biopic that doesn't hold anything back. Kimberly Peirce did an amazing job with this movie. I saw a documentary where she talked about having to cut a lot of stuff out because of the MPAA. This was originally NC-17 until she made the changes they wanted. The movie itself is simply amazing. Everyone that's heard of the movie knows about Hilary Swanks performance. She was absolutely superb and really deserved the Oscar for her portrayal of Brandon Teena(Teena Brandon). Peter Sarsgaard also gave a great performance as John. The film is an emotional rollercoaster and an absolute masterpiece.
    Melvin W Super Reviewer

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