Boys Don’t Cry

DIRECTOR: Kimberly Peirce

Expected to attend: Director Kimberly Peirce

Fifteen years after its release, Kimberly Peirce’s moving and brilliantly acted adaptation of the Brandon Teena story retains its stirring emotional power. As many know, Teena was a young transgender man, who was brutally murdered shortly after his 21st birthday. Living in an inhospitable community in Lincoln, Nebraska, he is hounded out of town, upset at his seduction of several young women. “You’re not a boy,” Teena is pointedly reminded by a gay friend; “They say I’m the best boyfriend they ever had,” is his cocky response. And this is the crux of the problem; Brandon’s male self-image doesn’t square with the perceptions of his surrounding society, and trouble is the result. Relocating to the small community of Falls City, Brandon falls in with some hard-partying folks including the volatile ex-con John and his buddy Tom and falls for their friend Lana.

Peirce gives great gravity to the relationship between Brandon and Lana; though the threat of discovery and harm are always in the background, their love for one another is the film’s heart and soul. The script never treats Brandon as foreign or other; it’s the fearful and hateful people around him who fill those roles. Pierce is also unstinting in her portrait of Midwestern life, where violence and abuse arise from unhappy and impoverished circumstances. Filled with great performances, including Hilary Swank’s indelible turn as Brandon—she deservedly won the Oscar—and Chloë Sevigny as Lana, Boys Don’t Cry is important and vital cinema.

— Rod Armstrong

This film contains graphic sexual violence.

Co-presented by:
Transgender Law Center

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