Boys Don't Cry (1999) - Rotten Tomatoes

Boys Don't Cry (1999)



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

Movie Info

Based on a true story, this drama was adapted from the life of Brandon Teena, born Teena Brandon, a woman who chose to live her life as a man and suffered tragic consequences as a result. In 1993, 20-year-old Brandon (Hilary Swank) leaves Lincoln, Nebraska for the nearby community of Falls City, where she sports a crew cut, favors jeans and boots, and is regarded as a man by most of the people in town. While Brandon's friend Lonny (Matt McGrath) warns her that sexual outsiders aren't looked upon kindly in Falls City, she develops a reputation for being something of a ladies' man, and is soon living with a single mother named Candace (Alicia Goranson). But when Brandon meets teenage Lana (Chloe Sevigny), the two become romantically involved almost immediately. Brandon makes friends with Lana's mother (Jeanetta Arnette) and a burly ex-con named John (Peter Sarsgaard). John and his buddy Tom (Brendan Sexton) run with a rough group of men who like to drink and carouse, and they accept Brandon as one of their own. However, when Brandon ends up in jail on a traffic violation, her secret comes out, and, while Lana stands by Brandon's side, John and Tom feel betrayed -- and their anger soon boils over into violence. A distinguished feature debut for director Kimberly Peirce, Boys Don't Cry was enthusiastically received in its showings at 1999 film festivals in Venice, Toronto, and New York. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Boys Don't Cry

All Critics (76) | Top Critics (22)

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

January 1, 2000
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

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

January 1, 2000
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic

Driven by performances of such luminous humanity that they break your heart.

January 1, 2000 | Rating: 4.5/5
Washington Post
Top Critic

Lyrical and galvanizing.

January 1, 2000 | Rating: A | Full Review…
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

Swank is impressive in the lead role.

January 1, 2000
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.

January 1, 2000
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Boys Don't Cry

An over-rated, heavily manipulative film detailing the true story of Teena Brandon, a woman trying to be a man and how she makes new friends in Nebraska, fooling them into thinking she's a man - and thus starting a relationship with a young, troubled woman there. By only briefly mentioning her criminal past but not detailing it, it feels like director Peirce is only showing one side of the story, that being that Teena was an innocent, likable human being who everyone should've loved. The only thing that elevates this movie to slightly above average territory is three standout performances from Hilary Swank (just unbelievable here - she deserves her Oscar), Chloe Sevigny (showing a full, human character), and Peter Sarsgaard (a pure psychotic, out-of-control performance that deserves as much recognition as the first two). This has the potential to be a powerful, stirring picture, but instead I couldn't help but feel like we were only seeing one side of this person, as well as the fact that why she feels like she's really a man is poorly, poorly detailed. While I admire the excellent acting as well as some of the gritty scenes, I can't quite recommend that this movie is worth it due to sheer manipulation by its director by failing to detail the past of the most important character in the film.

Dan Schultz
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

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 White
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

Absolutely heart wrenching! Hilary Swank deserved her Oscar and the fact that this was a true story is even more heart breaking. People in this world are so cruel and this film just shows you how much. 10/10

Bethany Murphy
Bethany Murphy

Super Reviewer

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